How dare Rishi Sunak play with the triple lock as the pensioners struggle to survive | Personal Finance | Finance

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have put 12.5 million pensioners in suspense. Now is no time to play, as pensioners make tough decisions about whether to eat or heat their homes.

For the second year in a row, the nation is caught in a guessing game on whether the state pension triple lock will be scrapped.

Using the triple lock was the Conservative party’s manifesto commitment in the 2019 election, and older voters went to the polls with that commitment in mind.

Yet instead of a moral obligation, it has become a political puppet.

Sunak canceled it in the current financial year when he was president. Now its fate once again rests in his hands.

We won’t find out his verdict until November 17, when Hunt stands up to deliver his adjourned autumn report. As a result, frightened pensioners have been worried for weeks.

Inflation, income or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher, triples the state pension each year.

This year pensioners would have received an 8.3 per cent increase based on income, but Sunak cut it to 3.1 per cent.

His decision meant that a whole new state pension would cost £481 a year per person, with prices rocketing and money urgently needed.

From next April, if the triple lock comes into effect, old and new state pensions will increase by September’s inflation figure of 10.1 per cent.

It will increase the basic state pension to £8,121.20 a year and the new £10,600.20 for pensioners paying the maximum National Insurance contribution. Many receive very little and feel robbed.

That 10.1 per cent increase would cost HM Treasury £10 billion a year. Instead, raising the state pension by 5.5 per cent in line with earnings in the year to September would save around £5 billion.

This will close an estimated £50 billion black hole in the country’s finances. No wonder Sunak and Hunt were desperate.

So far, Hunt has refused to be drawn on whether the triple lock applies Conservative Party leader Nadim Zahavi also refused to accept it.

read more: Daily Express campaign urges Sunak to protect pension triple lock

Sunak himself has said he is acting to “protect the most vulnerable”, which of course includes pensioners, who are cut off from fixed incomes when prices rise.

However, those words can mean almost anything.

Everyone understands the gravity of the situation, as Sunak needs to convince financial markets that the UK economy is in good shape.

We are still in a stronger position than many people realize.

The IMF calculates that our budget deficit will be just 1.4 percent of GDP by 2025. This compares well with Italy (three percent), Spain (four percent), France (five percent) and the United States (seven percent).

Our national debt will come down to 68 percent of GDP by 2027. This is better than France (118 percent), the United States (135 percent) and Italy (142 percent).

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I do not deny that spending cuts should be made and taxes should be raised. No decision will be easy or popular.

As the nation ages, there are also questions about whether the triple lock will be affordable in the long run.

That’s an argument for another time.

Now, three locks must be secured. Pensioners have endured a year of hell as their incomes shrink in real terms while prices of daily essentials rise.

Most can’t generate much money because they’re too old or too sick to work.

The last thing they need is that they don’t want a manifesto commitment that helped put the Tory party in power.

Sunak has said that the manifesto is his mandate as the electorate did not vote for him personally.

Now he needs to stand on it and use the triple lock to its fullest.

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