Monday, 20 Sep 2021

State pension triple lock under threat – No10 admits Rishi Sunak ‘reviewing the numbers’

Pension: Bernard Jenkin says 8% increase ‘can’t be justified’

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The Prime Minister’s spokesman today gave the clearest sign yet ministers are prepared to scrap their manifesto promise. In the 2019 general election, the Conservatives vowed to protect annual increases in pension payments.

The triple lock pledges to raise pensions by 2.5 percent, the rate of inflation, or average earnings.

Payments will rise by the highest of the three measures.

The pledge was originally made by the Conservatives in the 2010 election and has remained Government policy ever since.

The pandemic has drastically distorted earnings over the past 16 months due to the number of workers on furlough.

With millions returning to work, earnings are set to be artificially boosted.

There are fears it will lead to the cost of the state pension rocketing in the coming months.

Forecasts indicate under the triple lock pledge, pensions could be set for a rise of up to eight percent by next April.

The increase would equate to an extra £746.20 per pensioner.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson denied the triple lock would be scrapped.

However, hinting a change to the pensions formula is on the way, the No10 official said: “We recognise people’s concerns about what that might mean.

“And we’ve got to ensure fairness for both pensioners and taxpayers.

“The Chancellor has said previously, that the triple lock is Government policy.

“But we’ll recognise people’s concerns.

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“We will obviously keep figures and numbers under review, as we always do, and take any decisions at the appropriate time.”

The Treasury is currently grappling with how to bring down the record huge level of debt racked up during the pandemic.

Almost £300billion were borrowed by the Government in the 2020-21 financial year, the highest level since World War 2.

It means the UK now owes debt of more than £2.2trillion.

Mr Sunak is understood to have started consulting Conservative MPs on temporarily scrapping the triple lock in light of the economic situation.

Yesterday Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey admitted the Government was “looking at” the manifesto commitment.

She said: “We’ll be looking at what is happening with earnings and that’ll guide us on what happens on the pensions rise given to pensioners next year.

“I know we need to be driven by the data.”

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