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Rishi Sunak Hints Pension Triple Lock Could Be Scrapped To Ensure “Fairness For Taxpayers”

Rishi Sunak said there were "questions" around the triple lock pension pledge (Alamy)

3 min read

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hinted that the government could scrap its manifesto pledge to maintain the pensions triple lock as forecasters predict the policy could cost an extra £3 billion a year.

It comes after the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicted yesterday that state pensions could get an 8% boost in April 2022, in line with a significant increase in average wages. 

“The triple lock is government policy. But I recognise people's concerns about what that might mean, given some of the numbers that are being put around,” Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

“I would say that those numbers are speculation at this point and we don't know for sure what will happen.”

"But what I can say is that we will approach these decisions with fairness in mind. Fairness both for pensioners, but also for taxpayers.”

Under the government’s triple lock pledge — which was set to stay in place until 2024 — the state pension increases each year in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, the average increase in wages, or by 2.5%, whichever of those three is highest.

The OBR predicts that the next rise could be 8% in line with wages, a boost that could cost between £3 billion and £4 billion a year.

“There are some questions around the earnings numbers,” Sunak continued.

“I can't give you a specific answer because we don't know exactly what those numbers are yet and it would be wrong to speculate in advance of that.”

He continued: “But what I can tell you is our approach to making these decisions will be one that is guided by fairness.”

The pension boost will come just months after the £20 Universal Credit uplift is set to be scrapped, which some fear could push thousands of families below the poverty line. 

But Sunak insisted the measure was “always intended to be temporary” and argued that the government’s Covid jobs plan was helping get people back into work. 

“A year ago today we outlined the plan for jobs and at that point we feared unemployment would go up to 12% — 4 million people unemployed,” he told the BBC.

“You look now and the forecast for unemployment is less than half of that, that's 2 million fewer people out of work than we had feared.”

“It tells me that the plan we put in place — the plan that we stuck to — that plan is working.”

He continued: “We are throwing, literally, the kitchen sink at helping people find jobs and find better jobs. 

“I firmly believe that that is the right way long-term to help people and to support their families, and that is what we're doing.

“The evidence is actually that the plan that we put in place a year ago today, it has worked over the last year, and it is continuing to work.”

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