PENSIONERS in the Wee County with a partner of working age are being urged to put a claim in before Pension Credit and Housing Benefit rules change next week.

The benefits will be withdrawn for future claimants after next Wednesday, May 15, Age Scotland claiming mixed-age couples could be £7,000 worse off a year in the worst case scenario.

The "retrograde move" sparked anger with Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan calling on the UK Government to "change course".

The charity also highlighted how some pensioners will be in the "absurd position" of being financially better off of they split up and live apart from their younger partner.

Mr Sloan said: "Around one in six pensioners living in Scotland are in poverty and this retrograde move will do nothing to improve this.

"Beyond the Pension Credit support, these mixed age couples could also miss out on a range of 'passported benefits' such as housing benefit, council tax reduction, cold weather payments, support for dental and eyecare costs, perhaps even the warm home discount.

"All in, this could mean that the loss of financial support for those on the lowest income could be well over £7,000 a year."

A spokeswoman for the DWP explained the changes were agreed years ago.

She said: "This change was voted on by Parliament in 2012 and means, for new claims from May 15, 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."

Mixed aged couples already claiming before next Wednesday, May 15, will not be affected.

For help with navigating the benefits system, locals are urged to either get in touch with Age Scotland on 0800 12 44 222 or Clackmannanshire Citizens Advice Bureau on 01259 219 404.

Keith Brown, SNP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, accused the Conservatives of "inflicting harm on those who need our support", branding the changes "an unashamed attack" on pensioners' entitlements by Westminster.

He explained the move was "in stark contrast to the SNP's approach to social security" and added: "It is clear that Westminster can't be trusted to protect pensioner entitlements and the only way to do so is in an independent Scotland."

UPDATED: Conservative MP Luke Graham said: "Once again Mr Brown seems to deliberately misunderstand the Scotland Act - Edinburgh has the power to add top up benefits under sections 24, 26 & 28 of Scotland Act.

"Rather than working with his local MP and Westminster to address concerns, he is trying to bend an issue to his obsession with independence.

"This change was made in 2012 and was part of wider changes that have actually seen welfare spending increase in across the UK. If any constituent is impacted by this measure coming to force, please do not hesitate to contact me or pop into the office on 38 Primrose Street, Alloa."