The government should be ‘ashamed’ of voting to suspend the state pension triple lock just over a day before the highest rise in inflation in 10 years.
The National Pensioners Convention says millions of older people will have to choose between buying food or turning on the heating as prices rise in the wake of a record 4.2% increase in inflation (Office for National Statistics).
The news came just 36 hours after MPs in the House of Commons voted against a House of Lords amendment to save the triple lock. This vital measure protects annual state pension increases to the highest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5%.
The government want to impose a ‘double lock’ for a year, dropping the earnings element because average wage growth was unusually high at around 8.1%. However, as opposition MPs argued in the Commons debate over the Bill to suspend the triple lock on Monday, the 8.1% is not a true measure for average earnings.
Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary said: “The government should be ashamed of voting in the Commons to reject the Lords’ amendment and suspend the triple lock - just as we learn of the highest inflation figure in a decade.
“Older voters will not forget this betrayal of trust – the breaking of the government’s
pre-election Manifesto pledge to save the triple lock on the annual state pension rise, when the cost of living is at a record high.”
“They have condemned pensioners to a paltry annual pension increase as prices rocket up, forcing our oldest and most vulnerable to choose whether to eat or heat their homes. There are currently 2.1 million pensioners living in poverty, an increase of 30% since 2014. Yet the Prime Minister and his government have chosen to ignore this alarming figure and deprive pensioners of a few pounds a week rise so the Chancellor can hand out billions of corporate pounds in tax breaks to banks and big business.
“The NPC agrees with Rt Hon John McDonnell who asked why the government was arguing over a £2.75 rise per week for pensioners – pennies for Ministers but a fortune for older people.”
Jan Shortt thanked all the MPs who passionately made the case for retaining the triple lock in the House of Commons debate on Monday evening.
She said Baroness Altmann’s amendment to the Social Security (Up-Rating of Benefits) Bill - which would suspend the triple lock - gave the government an opportunity to find a sensible and fair compromise. It was disappointing that so many Conservative MPs did not vote to support the amendment and save millions more from poverty.
The NPC is not giving up hope that the Lords will again question the Bill to suspend the triple lock when it comes back before them again for scrutiny. We urge MPs and Peers to fight to the last to save the triple lock.
Jan Shortt added: “Tinkering with the triple lock affects the income of older women in particular. For those retiring in the future, the breaking of the manifesto pledge means less for them when they leave work. Re-distributing savings on pensions to give tax cuts to Banks shows exactly where the priorities for this government lie. MPs who voted to suspend the triple lock, voted against the needs of their constituents.”
NB: Most pensioners live on £10,000 a year or less, with only 545,000 of them paying tax at the higher rates, while around 6 million don’t earn enough to pay any tax at all.
You can download the press release below