Editorial: Pension triple lock sounds fair yet fuels inflation

News Letter editorial on Thursday August 17 2023
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​In 2017 when the DUP propped up the Conservatives in power one of their demands was the maintenance of the so-called ‘triple lock’.

The triple lock, introduced in 2010, lifts the state pension by the highest measure of price inflation, earnings growth or 2.5%

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It sounds like a humane policy of common sense that ensures that a vulnerable group, the elderly, are guaranteed enough income to live with dignity in comfort.

That the DUP sought to maintain such a financial commitment was arguably an illustration of their ability to think nationally, as opposed to parochially. But it could also be said to have been a populist and unfortunate political manoeuvre to make the DUP seem generous when in fact the triple lock was beginning to cause a degree of social injustice.

It was in 2017, the year the DUP assumed such influence in London, that a think tank found that the constant uprating of the state pension by the highest of the three criteria was gradually causing pensioners to pull ahead of younger generations – on average they were found to be £20 a week better off than working-age people.

Yet even with the DUP influence over Downing Street long gone (since 2019) no politicians, not even in the supposedly fiscally prudent Tory party, will admit that the lock is excessive.

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Now Rishi Sunak has said that the state pension will go up by 8% next year if that is the highest of the triple lock percentages. This will cost £10 billion and could widen a gap between the retired and those who work. There is reason why pensioners had less income – they needed less, because they were no longer supporting children or themselves living such busy, active lives.

As yesterday’s inflation data shows, the UK urgently needs to curb cost of living rises. The current so-called wage growth spiral is fuelling rises and now the triple lock is helping to do so too.