Thousands of couples face a pensions blow as an income boost for older breadwinners is axed this year.
The Government is pulling a weekly supplement worth up to £70 for pensioners who support a younger partner who is not yet old enough to collect their own state pension.
It means some 11,000 couples will lose out on as much as £3,500 a year from April, in a move that will save the Government £33 million a year.
Income cut: Former Army Major Adrian Furnival, pictured with wife Sheila, will soon have £70 stripped from his £260 weekly pension – yet was only told about the cut in February 2018
But many of those affected will also be Fifties-born women who have already missed out on up to £50,000 by having to wait six years longer to receive their state pension.
And while the Government has aimed to give notice a decade before making any major changes to pension income, Money Mail can reveal some couples received just two years’ warning ahead of the latest cut.
Former Army Major Adrian Furnival, 77, has been receiving the adult dependency increase (ADI) boost since he turned 65 and began collecting his state pension in 2007.
Adrian, who lives in France with his wife, Sheila, 63, will soon have £70 stripped from his £260 weekly pension — yet was only told about the cut in February 2018.
‘I have started to look for a little job so I can replace the income,’ he says. ‘We don’t have any other way of replacing it. I am trying to get this reversed as it was rather unfairly taken away.
‘I’ve never been on the dole, I’ve worked all my life, paid my taxes and I expect to be treated fairly.’
A drian was in the Army for 17 years, serving in the Royal Corps of Transport and the Royal Military Police.
He then managed golf clubs in Germany and the UK and lived in Windlesham, Surrey, before moving to Brittany with Sheila in 1997.
Sheila was supposed to start collecting her state pension at age 60, but is one of a group now having to wait until they turn 66, after the Government increased the state pension age for women.
‘It is a double whammy for us,’ says Adrian
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that pensioners living abroad were only told of the change in 2018, while UK residents affected were informed in annual statements sent ten years ago.
Service: Adrian in his Army uniform with the Queen in 1977
Pensions experts have criticised the Government for failing to let expats such as Adrian know sooner about the upcoming cut.
When Sir Roger Gale MP demanded answers from the Government on Adrian’s behalf, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman wrote to say most Britons receiving the extra cash were given ten years’ notice as it gave them ‘sufficient time to plan’. But he did not explain why expats were given only two years’ warning.
ADI dates back to an era when typical households would have an older male breadwinner and a financially dependent spouse who had spent much of her working life out of employment, bringing up children.
The extra payments were designed to support the household after the drop in income when the breadwinner retires.
Steven Cameron, pensions director at insurer Aegon, says: ‘For millions of individuals, the state pension and other benefits make up a large part, if not most of, their income in retirement.
So people need to be made aware of any planned reductions in their future benefits ideally ten years ahead of them taking place.’
Former pensions minister Steve Webb says several thousand of the 11,000 couples affected by the looming ADI cuts would include women who have already been impacted by the rise in state pension age.
And he says there is a case for allowing those already claiming the payments to do so for longer. ‘This change will have a major impact on the standard of living of those affected and there should have been a consistent approach to notifying those affected, regardless of whether or not they are still living in the UK,’ he adds.
‘The accelerated increase in women’s state pension ages means that more women will end up being financially dependent on their husbands and for longer than was envisaged when this legislation was first passed.’
The younger partners of those claiming the boost will also be at risk as they are not collecting a state pension themselves — so they would not receive extra payments if their spouse were to die.
One Money Mail reader, 79, says he now fears his 61-year-old wife would be left with no income if he were to die after his ADI is cut.
The couple, from Norwich, will miss out on an estimated £17,500 before the wife can start collecting her state pension at 66.
The reader says: ‘Those unable to find work in their later years have no way of bridging the gap.
‘I find it hard to understand why any government would seek to penalise such a vulnerable part of our population, which leads me to doubt how well researched the proposals were before the decision was reached.’
The axe fell on ADI as part of reforms included in the Pensions Act 2007, and the door was shut to new claims in 2010.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman says: ‘The ending of ADI was part of a package of reforms introduced in 2010, which meant that overall more women received the full basic state pension and more generous National Insurance credits for carers were introduced.
‘After April 6, current ADI recipients may be eligible for a means-tested benefit, such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit.
‘Those already in receipt of a means-tested benefit should see no change to their income as the loss of the ADI will be offset by an increase in their means-tested benefit.’