Pensioners promised triple lock for rest of the decade under Tories | Politics | News

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Rishi Sunak confirms commitment to Triple Lock pensions

Rishi Sunak insisted pensioners will get the triple lock for the rest of the decade under a Conservative government.

The Prime Minister brushed off questions about the affordability of the pledge, which will be included in the Tory manifesto, during a grilling by MPs.

Mr Sunak said the public can “safely assume” it will be kept in place throughout the next Parliament, which would be five years if it ran for the maximum term.

Asked whether he thinks it is affordable, he told the Liaison Committee: “I do, because the track record of the Government is that we make priorities, and making sure that if you have worked hard all your life you have the dignity that you deserve in retirement is important to me, it’s important to the Government, and the triple lock is an expression of that.”

Mr Sunak insisted that public spending will continue to grow in real terms, but said public services must become 5% more productive.

He told the committee: “I do think it’s right that we focus on productivity to get more out of the investment we’re putting into public services.

“To give just one statistic – public sector productivity is around 5% lower today than it was before the pandemic.

“So, no one is asking anything heroic; it’s just a return to where we were.

“Obviously the private sector has managed that.”

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak promise triple lock will be in place for the whole of the next parliament under the Tori (Image: PA)

The Daily Express revealed last week that the Conservative party will put the triple lock pledge at the heart of its manifesto.

It guarantees the state pension rises by a minimum of 2.5%, inflation or wage growth, whichever is highest.

But critics have increasingly taken aim at the cost after a double digit increase last year and 8.5% in April.

Former Tory minister David Willetts the lock has done its job and should now be ditched.

The peer, who was nicknamed “two brains” for his reputation as an intellectual, is now President of the Resolution Foundation think tank and author of The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future.

Writing on the grassroots conservativehome website, Lord Willetts said: “There is an obvious political logic to Jeremy Hunt’s commitment to extending the pensions triple lock to the next Parliament.

“You could argue that it is a realistic admission that the Tory vote is now concentrated amongst old people, and Conservatives have to offer them something.

“But that doesn’t make it right.”

Lord Willetts said the era of low interest rates has ended, which means the income savers get from their deposits has surged to £38 billion. He claimed that is mainly extra income for pensioners.

The peer said the lock was introduced because the level of the state pension was too low.

“Margaret Thatcher’s biggest single saving in public spending was to link the basic state pension to prices and not to earnings,” he wrote.

“The triple lock reversed her approach and enabled pensions to rise relative to earnings. But at some point we have to say that job is done, and that moment has surely arrived.”

Dennis Reed, Silver Voices director, said: “The importance of the older voter to the outcome of the General Election is proved by the very welcome doubling down by the Prime Minister on the pledge to implement the triple lock for the full five years of the next Parliament.

“This commitment is now so high profile that Sir Keir Starmer must respond in kind on behalf of Labour.

“Unless he does so, he will have lost the battle of the manifestos months before they are even published.

“The Government will have budgeted on the basis of this policy, so there is no excuse for Labour to say that it has to wait until it sees the books.

“Unless of course Labour wants to spend the years of National Insurance contributions by older people on other priorities.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We know that many older people, especially those on low fixed incomes, have been truly shaken by the material and psychological impact of the last two years of high inflation.

“Life is a daily struggle for these people who rely on their state pension to survive and who are having to watch every penny just to get by so rises to the state pension are vital for them to cover the additional cost of life’s essentials, which keep going up and up in price.

“It is encouraging that the PM is now on the record saying that the triple lock will stay for the full five years of Parliament, and we are very much hoping that all the other parties contesting the next General Election will quickly follow suit.”

Mr Sunak made the commitment at the wide-ranging Liaison Committee where he was quizzed by senior MPs.

The PM fiercely defended his plan to send illegal migrants to Rwanda, dismissing claims they should be exempt if they are gay.

He told the committee: “The constitution of Rwanda includes a broad prohibition of discrimination and it doesn’t criminalise or discriminate against sexual orientation in law, or indeed, in policy.”

Mr Sunak also objected to SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s question about whether he is proud of telling Tory MPs to vote against an amendment preventing Afghans who had supported British forces from being deported to Rwanda.

“I really disagree with that characterisation,” he said, adding that in light of recent debates in Parliament about MPs’ intimidation, “I actually think characterising like that is deeply unhelpful”.

 

 



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