Peers argue into the night for pensioners to
get the full rise under the “triple lock”
Synopsis of House of Lords debate
The government came under fire from all parties last night in a late sitting in the House of Lords for deciding to scrap the "triple lock" for pensioners- reducing next April's rise from over £14 to £5.55 a week. The debate which ran on until midnight united all parties and crossbenchers in opposition to the plans to break the earnings link.
Baroness Altman, a former Conservative pensions minister, proposed three amendments – offering the restoration of the earnings link in some shape or form, but also offering the government a compromise by either linking to a lower earnings level or giving the highest rise to those on pension credit.
Lord Prem Sikka, supported by Baroness Bennett and Lord Davies of Brixton, called for the full 8.3% to be paid. He said that because of the break in the link to earnings in 1980, pensions had never recovered and this is another example of the same thing. He also made the point that the Pensions Minister has so far not said how in future the backlog will somehow be made up. UK State Pensions are the lowest in Europe.
Only 4 out of every 10 pensioners receive the new state pension of £9,350 a year. The average state pension of about £8,000 a year is around 24/25% of earnings. Lord Sikka said that this is the lowest among industrialised nations and not increasing the state pension in line with earnings condemns it to remain low.
He then continued to raise the issue that despite the triple lock, 2.1 million pensioners (of which 1.25 million are women) live in poverty – a level of poverty higher now than in 2012/13. Those who try to top up their meagre pensions with part time work will soon be hit by the 1.25% levy on National Insurance. No National Insurance is payable on unearned income (dividends, second homes, commodity and securities markets). The cost of £4.7 billion to raise the state pension properly under the triple lock and alleviate poverty could easily be
raised by a National Insurance levy on unearned income.
Baroness Bennett advocated an even more radical overhaul of the pensions system, saying no pensioner should live in poverty and the contributory system which is unfair to women should be abolished.
The debate continues next week. In the meantime, for those interested in the live debate, go to:
The total debate takes 4 hours, so scroll to 20:12:26 on the timeline – Legislation: Social Security (Uprating of Benefits) Bill.
The NPC is extremely grateful to members of the House of Lords for their support to the older generation who are facing a very bleak winter.
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