CHANGES to pension credit brought in by the Government are to set to leave mixed-age couples in Furness worse off by as much as £7,000 a year, it has been claimed.

Reforms by the Department of Work and Pensions, which came into effect yesterday, are said to leave pensioners with younger partners ineligible for the benefit.

It means couples will have to claim for Universal Credit instead.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock expressed his concern at the changes being brought while attention was on Brexit.

He encouraged constituents to seek advice.

He said: "It is disappointing that the government has pushed through changes which we know will put some pensioner couples into poverty. With the media spotlight still fixed firmly on Brexit I am worried that despite the efforts of local and national advice agencies working hard to get this important message out, it is now sadly too late.

"Any mixed age couples who have not yet made a claim for Pension Credit and find themselves navigating tricky Universal Credit terrain should remember there is help available through Citizens Advice by calling 03444 88 96 24 in the first instance."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pension said: “This change was voted on by Parliament in 2012 and means, for new claims from 15 May, only pensioners can claim pension credit. If one partner is of working age we believe it’s fair that the same incentives to work and save for retirement apply as they do for other people of the same age.

“We have updated online guidance and written to all eligible mixed age couples to make them aware of the changes, which won’t affect them unless their circumstances change.”