Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended the government’s decision to reintroduce the triple lock on pensions, saying that the elderly are among “the most vulnerable in society” and needed to be provided for.
The triple lock means that the state pension will increase every year either by 2.5 per cent, in line with the average wage increase, or in keeping with inflation, depending on which is the highest.
Given the current increases in inflation, this move could see state pensions rise by as much as 10 per cent next year.
The government had suspended the triple lock for a year between 2022 and 2023 after the Covid-19 pandemic had drastically impacted the public purse.
However, the Conservatives had pledged in their 2019 election manifesto to preserve the triple lock, and the government has now opted to bring it back in keeping with that promise.
The value of the state pension will be calculated according to the rate of inflation recorded in September this year and paid out from April 2023.
The government’s decision to protect pensioners in this way has sparked backlash, at a time when trade unions are taking industrial action over workers' salaries.
The RMT union has hit headlines this week by holding a series of strikes over pay, redundancies and conditions. Rail bosses have offered pay increases of three per cent, while the RMT is calling for an increase of seven per cent.
Barristers have separately voted to strike over their pay and conditions, while two teaching unions are weighing up giving a vote to members over whether they ought to take industrial action.
Despite public sector workers striking in the face of inflationary pressures, ministers have talked down the prospect of pay rises in line with inflation.
Sunak said that although it was “right that we reward our hard-working public sector workers with a pay rise”, additional remuneration needed to be “proportionate and balanced” to avoid “making the inflationary pressures worse.”
Crossbench peer Lord O’Neill called it “ludicrous” that the government sought to constantly protect pensioners”, saying that he had “no idea” why the triple lock had been reintroduced.
When quizzed over whether the return of the triple lock was politically motivated, work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said: “When politicians make a decision, we think about the individuals, we think about the people who are worried if they have enough money to heat their homes.”
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