Pensions triple lock scrapped for millions of Brits
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Conservative MPs overwhelmingly backed the Government in a vote that saw the party break its manifesto pledge. At the 2019 election, the Tories promised to maintain its commitment to the policy first introduced by David Cameron in 2010.
The triple lock ensures state pensions rise by the highest of inflation, increase in earnings or 2.5 percent each year.
But following the pandemic, ministers announced earlier this month their intention to suspend the mechanism for a year.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said at the time a “statistical anomaly” caused by the coronavirus crisis meant average earnings were likely to rise by over eight percent.
There were fears wage inflation has been artificially boosted by thousands of workers coming off the furlough scheme.
The triple lock is enshrined in legislation, but this evening MPs voted by 303 to 52 to amend the law.
It means for the next year the state pension will only rise by the highest out of 2.5 percent or inflation.
The Bank of England expects inflation to peak at approximately four percent in 2021.
In an unusual move, the change in legislation was voted through the House of Commons in a single day.
It went through all stages of the Commons parliamentary process in under six hours.
Ahead of the vote campaigners warned the Government to “rethink” its decision.
Dennis Reed, director of campaigning group Silver Voices, said: “Our state pension is the worst in the developed world.
“This can’t buy life’s essentials, let alone cope with any household emergencies.”
Defending the decision to suspend the triple lock, Ms Coffey told MPs: “Millions of people have moved off furlough, back into work and we are witnessing a surge in the labour market with over a million job vaccines.
“The combination of these has resulted in a distorting effect on wages with a statistical anomaly.”
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She added: “The triple lock policy will be applied in the usual way from next year for the remainder of the parliament.”
Labour abstained on the vote, saying that while they accepted an eight percent pension increase was not sustainable, there was no good reason why a better calculation for average wages could not be found.
“We have been clear that the Government cannot be allowed to use the current crisis as a smokescreen to break their word to pensioners and abolish the triple lock by the back door,” shadow work and pensions minister Matt Rodda said.
“We accept that the pandemic has distorted the earnings data.
“We knew this problem was coming, and surely it’s not beyond the wit of the Treasury to have found a solution to the anomaly in wage date which maintained the link to earnings and offered certainty for pensioners?
He added: “By downgrading the triple lock the Government is breaking a manifesto promise. Trust in the Government has been badly damaged.”
The SNP’s pensions spokesman David Linden said the pension pause helped make the case for Scottish independence.
He said: “It makes a mockery of the ‘No’ referendum campaign’s claim that Scotland remaining in this broken union is the best deal for UK pensioners when it is patently not.”
The legislation will be debated by the House of Lords at a later date before passing into law.
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