Charities slam ‘intolerable drip-drip-drip attacks’ on pension triple lock

Campaigners have attacked the “drip-drip-drip attacks” on the pension triple lock which are “debilitating” for older people struggling with rocketing food and energy prices.

Charities representing older people hit out at comments by Lord William Hague, a close ally of Rishi Sunak, that the lock is “unsustainable”.

Dennis Reed, director of over-60s ­campaign group Silver Voices, said: “These drip-drip-drip attacks on the triple lock are intolerable, and very stressful and debilitating for older people struggling with rocketing food and energy prices.

“Older statesmen like Lords Hague and [former Labour minister] Blunkett should know better than to court headlines in this way.”

The triple lock refers to the idea that the state pension rises in line with the highest of these three measures every year: a flat 2.5 percent rise, average earnings growth or Inflation.

The Daily Express has championed calls for the Government to maintain the triple lock to protect older people.

Lord Hague of Richmond said the increasing size of the pensioner population represented a generational issue that “we will have to confront”, risking a slow drift into higher levels of spending “with steadily higher taxes to cope with [the resulting] surge in demand for healthcare”.

He said: “I would not expect at the coming election the political parties to say they’re going to do away with the triple lock but it is unsustainable over time. One of the reasons why you would change that is to say, ‘We need to take some of that money over time for the healthcare of those people who would otherwise be receiving that pension’.

“The Treasury never like to hypothecate, cutting one thing to help another thing, but in practice that is what you would do. Because there’s no escape from some of that increased expenditure, even if tomorrow people had a healthier diet and we had better data on what was happening.”

The backing of Lord Hague – the previous MP in Mr Sunak’s Yorkshire constituency – helped the Prime Minister secure his Richmond seat in 2015.

Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention, said: “As it stands, the triple lock is not keeping pensioners out of poverty – there are now more than two million officially below the poverty line, and as prices rise, that figure is growing rapidly.

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“Yet here, in the sixth richest country in the world, there are those in our government who want to get rid of the lock completely, exposing many more of us to hardship.

“Time for them to stop stressing older people out with the threat of axing the triple lock, and start engaging in genuine debate on pensions.”

The former Labour minister Lord Blunkett said the older generation would need to pay its “fair share” but said it was important it did not seem like a “punishment”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Without the triple lock this year, the State Pension would have suffered a devastating real terms cut leaving millions of older people unable to afford the very basics.

“The vast majority of people support the continuation of the triple lock, with our research showing that three-quarters of all adults – around 40 million people – strongly supporting its retention.

“With the cost of living crisis showing no signs of abating, the importance of the triple lock cannot be overstated. We hope it remains in place as a safety net for those who need it for many years to come.”  

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There are no plans to alter the triple lock. It is an important and vital security for those who have reached retirement age and are unable to work.”

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