Triple lock campaign gets major boost as Hunt now under pressure to honour state pension

Jeremy Hunt is under fresh pressure to honour the triple lock in full after an independent campaign to protect it attracted 18,000 backers.

By Sam Lister, Political Editor based in the Westminster lobby

Jeremy Hunt wearing a poppy at the King's Speech

Jeremy Hunt wearing a poppy at the King's Speech (Image: Getty)

The Chancellor is considering paying a lower amount than the 8.5 per cent pensioners are expecting so he can save around £900 million.

But economists now believe he will have more money than had been feared in the autumn statement later this month.

The new petition pushing for him to meet the government’s promise on the state pension rise comes on top of a crusade by The Daily Express and Silver Voices backed by more than 277,000 people.

Silver Voices director Dennis Reed said: “This is a good complement to the Express/Silver Voices petition of over 275,000 signatures.

“It will heap official pressures on ministers to justify why they are considering watering down the Triple Lock increase due next April.

“If such a measure sees the light of day we will encourage parliamentary opposition to it, using this petition as a wedge."

The independent petition launched on the government website means a minister will have to formally respond as it has attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

It says the Conservative party's manifesto promised to keep the triple lock, which increases the state pension by the highest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5 per cent.

The petition adds: “Headline wage growth was 8.5 per cent in May to July 2023, but there is speculation that Government might use a lower figure. The full increase should apply.

“The Government has already reneged on its manifesto when it legislated to increase state pensions by less than the triple lock in April 2022.

“The triple lock does not mean that pensioners' total incomes are increasing in real terms. It only applies to state pensions. Many workplace pension increases are capped at 2.5 per cent or five per cent. Annuities and Pension Protection Fund compensation are frozen for many.

“The triple lock helps keep pensioners' total incomes from falling too far below inflation.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is considering whether to change the formula by stripping out public sector bonuses so the figure is reduced to 7.8 per cent.

Under the lower rate the full new state pension would rise from £203.85 to £219.75 but using the higher rate would increase it to £221.20.

A Treasury source said a decision has still not been taken on whether to pay out the full rate.

“They’ll decide closer to the date based on what’s affordable,” the insider added.

Jan Shortt (CORR), general secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention, said: Older people need warm homes and nutritious food to stay healthy. Those with disabilities and chronic ill health need warm homes all year round, not just in winter.

“Given that the cost of energy and food are still high and the state pension is still less than half the full-time value of the minimum wage, we will be pressing the Chancellor to keep to that promise."

Elderly woman in armchair huddles to keep warm

Elderly woman in armchair huddles to keep warm (Image: Getty)

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: "With one in six pensioners living in poverty and many more struggling on modest incomes amidst the continuing cost of living crisis, the Triple Lock is as important now as it has ever been. If as an older person you are finding it hard to pay all your bills and put a decent meal on the table then every penny counts, and that's why it is so important that the Government stands by its pledge to honour the Triple Lock in full this year, rather than wriggling out of its commitment by plumping for a lower figure.

"The Government made the Triple Lock rules and it should stick by them. We know from our many conversations with older people that anything less than this will be viewed as a betrayal by those who are watching what the Government is doing and saying on this very closely."

You can sign the petitions here and here.


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