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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK

The pensions triple lock is still needed – don’t let the Tories unpick it

A man with a placard defending the triple lock at an anti-Tory demonstration in London
A man with a placard defending the triple lock at an anti-Tory demonstration in London. Photograph: Vuk Valcic/Zuma Press Wire/Shutterstock

Your report (Treasury officials mull one-off break from pensions triple lock, 12 September) says: “Any change to the way the state pension is calculated would be controversial because the Conservatives pledged in their last election manifesto to abide by the [triple-lock] formula.”

“Controversial” is an understatement. As recently as last month, Rishi Sunak confirmed, without any caveats and in full knowledge of the likely increase, that the triple lock would apply from next year (Sunak pledges to keep to pension triple lock despite signs of extra £10bn cost, 16 August). He even insisted he was comfortable with pensioners receiving the full annual uplift and brushed aside concerns about affordability.

If the government now backtracks on this unequivocal commitment, what does that say about Sunak’s credibility and promise to govern with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”?
Mike Pender

• The debate around the pensions triple lock omits one vital fact: that the UK has the lowest state pensions in the developed world, according to an OECD study in 2017. The triple lock addresses that. Far from being a “runaway train”, as William Hague suggests, if the triple lock continues, it would eventually, after a very long time, have the effect of dragging the UKs poverty pensions up to the European average.

Why don’t political parties adopt an easy solution to the vexed question of whether we should keep our pensioners in poverty or not? Namely, retain the triple lock, but put a ceiling on it of, say, 7%, with a guarantee that raising the state pension this way will continue until UK pensions reach the European average. Simple.
Dan Cooper
Watford, Hertfordshire

• So William Hague says the triple lock on pensions is a “runaway train”. My own view, as a pensioner who still works four days a week in the health sector, and is a part-time carer for my wife and son – and therefore contributes to both the real economy and the social economy – is this: it’s not a runaway train, it’s wealth redistribution and now needs to be extended, through higher wages and a strong public service sector, to the rest of the population, who produce the wealth of this country.
Paul Hartley
Witney, Oxfordshire

• In the current debate about the triple lock, it is worth remembering that percentage increases will always widen the gap between those on lower rates and those on higher ones. Back in the 1970s, trade unions argued for flat amounts in pay bargaining in order to reduce differentials – something higher-paid workers sometimes resisted. In pensions as in wages, women are at a particular disadvantage, as their starting point tends to be lower than men’s. Any argument for percentage increases need to be tempered with policies that address the inequalities they help to perpetuate.
Prof Mike Bury
Wrotham, Kent

• Those who claim that the triple lock is no longer sustainable appear to have discounted increasing taxation (Planned changes to triple lock divide Tory MPs, 14 September). The only way in which the value of the pension, and the quality and quantity of other public services, can be maintained is by collecting and redistributing more money from individuals and businesses – an intensely political issue that is deserving of discussion in the run-up to the general election, not after it.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

• Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication in our letters section.

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