Europe

Sunak risks ‘losing faith of the nation’ over pension triple lock

Liz Truss commits to triple lock on pensions during PMQs

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If Rishi Sunak’s new Government is “not very careful they will lose the faith of the nation”, pensioners have warned, amid concerns it may ditch the triple lock on pensions. Roy Baldwin, an 86-year-old former copywriter from Dursley, Gloucestershire is one of a growing number who are voicing their fears over payments slipping behind the soaring cost of living.

On Thursday, Number 10 said it would not commit to raising the state pension in line with inflation ahead of his Chancellor’s budget next month.

The uncertainty has fuelled a petition – started by the Express and Silver Voices – which has already received over 7,000 signatures.

It is calling on the new Prime Minister – the nation’s third in a matter of months – to guarantee the triple lock.

Mr Baldwin said: “I’ve always believed the Government – whatever its colour – does what is best for the nation.

“But there have been so many changes of course and U-turns in policies over the last few weeks that I don’t know what to expect now.

“Common sense tells me that the present Prime Minister and Chancellor have told us to expect hard times, and that is fair enough – we’ve been forewarned.

“But I do think they should keep to the promises they have already made. If they’re not very careful they will lose the faith of the nation.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has warned that the Government may have to make tough decisions on the country’s finances as it looks to plug a multi-billion pound funding gap.

As well as still holding a significant borrowing debt from the coronavirus pandemic, the fiscal event in September, announced by Mr Hunt’s predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng, led to a massive sell-off in the UK gilt market.

Gilts are long-term Government bonds, which are used to generate revenue for public spending beyond taxation.

A Downing Street spokesperson acknowledged the uncertainty over the state pension was “difficult” for the UK’s many pensioners, who face stagnant payments at a time when the cost of living is soaring.

Heart-breaking reports of pensioners having to ride the bus to stay warm, and fearing they may have to choose between food and energy have already come to light.

It was only last week Mr Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, committed to the triple lock – which guarantees pensions will rise either in line with inflation, average earnings or 2.5 percent, whichever is highest. However, that pledge may now be torn up.

Mr Baldwin continued: “I feel a bit guarded, maybe apprehensive about the legitimacy of the present Government because of the triple lock. They need to focus on doing well for all of the people in this country.

“Not for the rich by cutting taxes for the best-off in society, but for the working-class people and show they can deliver on promises made. If they don’t, they’ll be out of office.

He added: “I worked for 65 years in my career, and thankfully have a company pension. But I am very concerned at the moment, especially for those I know who don’t have any private savings left at all and just have to rely on the state pension.

“So many people in this country are reliant on state benefits and the state pension, and so it does fill me with concern hearing about potential cuts or abandoned commitments.”

Mr Baldwin is not the only person to voice their anxieties about the state pension; many signatories of the Express petition have spoken of their outrage.

Graeme Bell said: “UK pensions are one of the lowest in the western developed world and I am tired of broken promises by this Government.”

Pamela Topping said of her reason for signing: “When I eventually get the pension, I want to be able to live without poverty. Being a Waspi [Women Against State Pension Inequality, an organisation that campaigns for the state pension age to be equal among men and women] lady, it’s a travesty that I have to wait another two years.”

Meanwhile, Robert Baker commented: “I don’t want to freeze to death or go hungry after working for fifty years.”

And Robert Tanley said: “Enough of U-turns, I am 76 and worked for 50 years and need the security.”

Sign the pension triple lock petition here

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