Rishi Sunak hesitates to promise the retention of the pensions triple lock in the upcoming Conservative manifesto. This comes as he grapples with finding funds for tax cuts, as demanded by his own MPs.
During the G20 summit in Delhi, the prime minister affirmed that the triple lock, which ensures a minimum 2.5% increase in pensions, with adjustments based on inflation or earnings if higher, remains government policy.
However, when asked if it would be included in the next manifesto, he stated, “We’re not going to speculate on the election manifesto now. I’ve got plenty to get on with between now and then.
“But the triple lock is the government’s policy and has been for a long time. I’m not going to get into our manifesto now but the triple lock has been a long-standing policy for us.”
Introduced by the coalition government in 2011, the triple lock has led to pensions rising at a faster rate than wages.
However, Sunak is under pressure from his own MPs to find funding for future tax cuts.
When questioned about reports that his chancellor is planning to cut benefits to finance tax cuts in next year’s budget, Sunak responded, “There are various ways to provide assistance to people … We have directly supported individuals with energy bill assistance this year and have provided direct cost-of-living payments. There are multiple avenues to provide support to those in need.”
Stephen Timms, the Labour chair of the work and pensions committee, stated that reducing benefits during a cost-of-living crisis should be unthinkable.
While cutting benefits to fund tax cuts may be appealing to many within the Conservative party, eliminating the triple lock would be far more controversial among Tory MPs and voters, regardless of the cost.
Pensioners will soon discover the amount their payments will increase, with data suggesting that average earnings from May to July have risen by approximately 8%.
An analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals that pensioners are currently receiving almost £100 more per month than they would have if pensions had increased in line with either earnings or inflation. This amounts to an additional £11bn per year for the government.
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