National Pensioners’ Convention members are celebrating winning their fight to reinstate the triple lock to guarantee state pensions rise by 10.1% next year.
Major win for NPC people-power!
But as the increase does not kick in until April, older people already having to choose between paying for food or heating, still face a bleak six months of rampant price rises. (*see OBR comment below).
And there are other concerns in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement announced today (17 Nov), including a further rise in the energy price cap next April, and a delay to the introduction of a social care cap, as well as other much needed reforms.
NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “We welcome the news that the triple lock will be saved, giving hard pressed pensioners and lower earners a 10.1% rise next spring. It is a huge relief after months of worry for many.
“But the devil is in the detail, and other aspects of the Chancellor’s Statement still concern us, including the significant hike in the energy price cap next spring – details of which have yet to be seen. We are also disappointed in the delay in the social care cap for two years, which would limit how much the government can claim from a person’s property to pay for the cost of care.”
Pensions triple lock saved!
But it won’t save us from rocketing prices this winter
At a time when the prices of food and essentials continue to rocket (food inflation was at 16.4% in October), older people, who spend a much larger proportion of their meagre fixed pension incomes on food and heating, are still struggling to afford essentials.
Jan commented: “There are six months before our triple lock pension increase kicks in – that’s a long cold winter - and there’s no sign from the government that any of the measures announced will bring inflation down.”
She added that the NPC is relieved the government intends to stick to its ‘triple lock’ Manifesto pledge for 2023 – the measure that ensures pensions rise by the greater of last September's inflation rate (10.1%), or wage growth, or 2.5%.
It was feared the triple lock might be axed as part of the Chancellor’s cost-cutting to reduce the UK’s £55billion budget deficit.
But thanks to tireless campaigning by the NPC - which saw thousands of our members write to their local MPs – and other older people’s organisations and supporters, Mr Hunt will increase not only pensions but also benefits such as Universal Credit.
Jan Shortt said: “Even though the energy price cap will continue for a year from next April, the typical household bill will rise from £2,500 to £3,000 – in many cases more than three times what we were paying at the start of this year. Many people can’t afford their bills now, even with the additional support measures.”
She said it was also “disappointing” that there was no mention of a much -needed house insulation programme to helps everyone, and there was nothing about sustainable, renewable fuels. And despite the broad brush of the Statement, services will still be cut and jobs lost at a time when older people, disabled people, those in ill health and workers struggling on low pay and zero hours contracts need the support most.
Jan commented: “To its shame, the UK has one of the poorest state pensions in the developed world. Its value has been eroded over decades. Our spending power has decreased to a pitiful level, and the 3.1% rise in pensions in April 2022 was swallowed up by energy prices and inflation. Even with a 10% rise, the basic state pension will still be less than half the earnings of a person on the National Living Wage.” **
*The Office of Budget Responsibility says living standards are going to fall by 7% over the next two years, wiping out eight years of growth. Rising prices and interest rates have tipped the economy into a recession that will last just over a year, with GDP falling 2% and not returning to its pre-pandemic level until the end of 2024. The USA virtually returned to pre-pandemic GDP levels in summer 2021. New York Times/ Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. economist. April, 21.
** The full "new" state pension currently worth £185.15 a week will go up to £203.85 next April. The full basic state pension, for those who reached state pension age before April 2016, is currently £141.85 a week, and will go up to £156.20.
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