Around 40,000 mixed age couples will be affected by the government’s policy change to pension credit, the pensions minister Guy Opperman has estimated.

The amendment to the Welfare Reform Act 2012 made earlier this year rules both members of a couple now have to reach the qualifying age for pension credit before they are entitled to it.

Responding to a parliamentary question, Opperman (pictured) said that 15,000 mixed age couples are estimated to be impacted by the change in 2019/20, 30,000 in 2020/21 and 40,000 in 2021/22.

‘The change will not affect mixed age couples who are entitled to pension credit and/or pension age housing benefit immediately before the implementation date unless their entitlement to both those benefits subsequently ends,’ Opperman said.

In addition, the minister also outlined the effects on the Treasury’s annual managed expenditure (AME). It has been estimated that AME savings in 2019/20 will be £45 million, £130 million in 2020/21 and £220 million in 2021/22.

‘The estimates relate to couples who are not in receipt of either pension credit or pension-age housing benefit at the point the changes are introduced. They include no estimate of behavioural effects, for example from job retention or increased saving for retirement,’ Opperman explained.

Last month work and pensions select committee chair Frank Field wrote to the secretary of state for work and pensions Amber Rudd on the change. He expressed ‘concern’ the amendment could ‘see some couples lose a substantial proportion of their income’, up to £7,000, simply due to their age difference.

Field added the change, due to come into effect in May 2019, will mean affected couples will now need to claim universal credit instead of pension credit.