Prime Minister blames economy as he looks at axing policy promises – including pensions triple lock


The future of the pension triple lock was thrown into further doubt yesterday after the Prime Minister launched a ‘review’ of all his previous pledges.

Rishi Sunak made dozens of policy promises during the summer Conservative leadership campaign and in his previous role as Chancellor.

But Downing Street said that they were all now under review, because the economic context had ‘changed significantly’.

No 10 said the review, nicknamed the ‘bonfire of the pledges’, was designed to establish which of them remained ‘deliverable’.

In the Commons chamber yesterday Mr Sunak refused to say whether pensions and benefits would be raised in line with inflation next year, despite having pledged to do so when he was Chancellor in May.

And his press secretary said he could no longer be held to any of his previous pledges until the review had been completed.

Rishi Sunak made dozens of policy promises during the summer Conservative leadership campaign and in his previous role as Chancellor

Rishi Sunak made dozens of policy promises during the summer Conservative leadership campaign and in his previous role as Chancellor

‘We are looking at all the campaign pledges and we are looking at whether it is the right time to take them forward,’ she said. 

‘We need to take some time to make sure what is deliverable and what is possible and we are engaging with stakeholders and with the relevant secretaries of state as well.

‘Obviously those are pledges that were made a few months ago now. The context, particularly economically, has changed significantly since that time.’

No 10 said that promises made during Mr Sunak’s time as Chancellor also did not necessarily apply. 

In May, the then Chancellor told MPs that benefit payments would be increased in line with inflation next year and that ‘the triple lock will apply to the state pension’.

But asked about the issue yesterday, the PM declined to say whether the promise still stood.

Government sources said a final decision on whether to press ahead with the triple lock would be made in the Budget on November 17, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will unveil an ¿eye-watering¿ £50billion package of tax rises and spending cuts

Government sources said a final decision on whether to press ahead with the triple lock would be made in the Budget on November 17, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will unveil an ‘eye-watering’ £50billion package of tax rises and spending cuts

In the Commons chamber yesterday Mr Sunak refused to say whether pensions and benefits would be raised in line with inflation next year, despite having pledged to do so when he was Chancellor in May

In the Commons chamber yesterday Mr Sunak refused to say whether pensions and benefits would be raised in line with inflation next year, despite having pledged to do so when he was Chancellor in May

‘I think everyone knows we do face a challenging economic outlook and difficult decisions will need to be made,’ he said.

‘What I would say is that we will always, as my track record as chancellor demonstrates, have fairness and compassion at the heart of everything we do.’

Government sources said a final decision on whether to press ahead with the triple lock would be made in the Budget on November 17, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will unveil an ‘eye-watering’ £50billion package of tax rises and spending cuts.

Under one option considered by the Treasury, pensions would rise in line with average earnings rather than inflation next year, meaning an increase of 5.5 per cent, instead of 10 per cent. 

If approved, the state pension of £185.15 per week would rise to £195.35 rather than £203.70, costing pensioners £8.35 a week, or £434 a year.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the move would save the Treasury around £4.5billion a year.

But ministers are also considering scrapping the triple lock altogether after 2025 and replacing it with a more affordable formula.

Under one option considered by the Treasury, pensions would rise in line with average earnings rather than inflation next year, meaning an increase of 5.5 per cent, instead of 10 per cent

Under one option considered by the Treasury, pensions would rise in line with average earnings rather than inflation next year, meaning an increase of 5.5 per cent, instead of 10 per cent

The 2019 Tory manifesto pledged to keep it in place for the duration of this parliament

The 2019 Tory manifesto pledged to keep it in place for the duration of this parliament

Campaigners have warned that dumping the triple lock would be a ‘betrayal’. Introduced in 2010, it guarantees that the state pension will rise in line with either inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is the highest. 

The 2019 Tory manifesto pledged to keep it in place for the duration of this parliament.

Mr Sunak suspended it this year because of a freak rise in average wages linked to the end of lockdown, meaning pensioners received an increase of just 3.1 per cent.

In his first week in Downing Street, Mr Sunak has already dumped a number of high profile pledges from his leadership campaign. 

In August, he proposed a £10 fine for those who miss GP and hospital appointments, saying: ‘The NHS will always be free at the point of use, but not free at the point of misuse.’ But No 10 has said the idea is not being pursued.

During the summer, Mr Sunak backed the resumption of fracking in areas where it had community support, but has now banned it.

A promise to ‘review or repeal’ all remaining EU laws on the statute books within his first 100 days has also been quietly dropped.



Read More: Prime Minister blames economy as he looks at axing policy promises – including pensions triple lock

2022-11-02 15:00:10

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