Pensions triple lock: Conservatives break manifesto promise and temporarily scrap triple lock on pensions

The pensions triple lock is being temporarily scrapped, a Cabinet Minister has announced, after jobs and earnings were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

File photo dated 06/01/15 of money in a piggy bank. (PA/ Gareth Fuller)

In the second break of the Conservatives' manifesto promises announced in a day, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told MPs it was a “fair and reasonable course of action” to suspend the triple lock for 2022 to 23 and it will mean that “pensioners are not unfairly benefiting from a statistical anomaly”.

The triple-lock guarantees that pensions grow in line with whichever is highest out of earnings, inflation or 2.5%, and next year’s increase will be based on either 2.5% or inflation.

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Announcing the news to the House of Commons she said: “As we have sought to protect lives, so we sought to protect livelihoods and to mitigate the worst impacts we introduced £407bn package of support including the furlough and self-employment schemes to support incomes.

“Nevertheless last year we saw earnings fall by one percentage point. In response we legislated to set aside the earnings link allowing me to award an uprating of 2.5% as this was higher than inflation. If we had not done this state pension would have been frozen.”

Ms Coffey said it would “not be fair” for the system to remain in place as is while there are pressures on public spending and explained: “At a time when we have made tough decisions to restore the public finances which have impacted working people, such as freezing income tax personal thresholds at current levels, this would not be fair.

“Setting aside the earnings element is temporary and only for one year. This means we can and will apply the triple lock as usual from next year for the remainder of this Parliament in line with our manifesto commitment.”

Labour described the move as “more a triple let down than a triple lock”.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said this is another is another break of the Conservatives’ manifesto promises.

“And of course we know the promise on international aid was also broken before the recess, it’s more a triple let-down than a triple lock,” he added.

He said: “I reject the presentation of this issue as a source of intergenerational tension or unfairness because we all have an interest in ensuring there is a decent state pension in future.

“We should never present increased longevity as a problem.”