AT THE weekend, The Telegraph newspaper reported that Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is ‘mulling’ over his options for breaking the triple lock on pensions – effectively plunging millions of UK pensioners into extreme poverty.
The triple lock, a cast iron guarantee in the last Tory party manifesto, commits the government to increase state pensions to match the highest average earnings, the rate of inflation or by 2.5 per cent whichever figure is the largest.
Sunak has long mulled over exactly how to break this pledge in order to save the Treasury billions to pay down the huge government debt run up bailing out British capitalism during the pandemic.
With the Tories announcing that they will be sticking to ending the furlough scheme by September, it is now pensioners’ turn to pay for the debt crisis.
The world crisis has destroyed British capitalism to the extent that the Tories have run up debts of £2.2 trillion to bail out the entire economy.
The time has come to pay off this debt, and pensioners are next in line to pay the cost of capitalism’s crisis.
According to Sunak it would cost the Treasury over £7 billion if it stuck to its triple lock pledge and, according to The Telegraph, he is considering a number of options of how to break it.
One of the options under consideration is to introduce a ‘double lock’ for a year which would increase pensions by September’s inflation rate as determined by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).
Another option is to bring down the average wage calculation by going back two or three years to a time when wages increases were at their lowest, and using this to determine any pension increase.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: ‘It is not surprising that some policymakers are arguing for a different approach on a one-off basis. However, it’s asking a lot for older people to believe that any scaling back of the triple lock would only be temporary rather than permanent.’
With pensioner poverty in the UK already at its highest level for two decades Age UK has warned that ending the triple lock ‘will compound the misery on Britain’s oldest generation.’
Morgan Vine of the charity Independent Age said pensioner poverty is at its highest level since 2008, at 18 per cent, and has been rising steadily since 2012.
‘We regularly hear from older people worried about how they will afford to put food on the table or to heat their homes, and in a recent survey, almost one in four said they were feeling more financially insecure because of the pandemic,’ he said.
Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention, added that almost two million pensioners are living in poverty, including 1.1 million in severe poverty.
She said: ‘The triple lock is a manifesto promise and they should keep that promise. They should also do what we have consistently asked them to do, which is to sit around the table and have an honest debate about pensions and the future of pensions.’
The Tories don’t want an honest debate about anything – only to slash wages and pensions to try and rescue a bankrupt capitalist system.
To cover their assault on pensions they have resorted to the claim that they are interested in ‘fairness’ with a Treasury spokesman saying: ‘We will ensure that decisions on pensions are fair for both pensioners and taxpayers.’
The only fairness the Tories want is that pensioners along with the working class are forced into abject poverty.
Workers and pensioners are in the same boat and facing the same enemy – a Tory government and a capitalist system determined to drive them into poverty to save the bosses and bankers.
The immediate issue for every worker and pensioner is to unite to demand that the trade unions take action to defend wages, jobs and pensions by calling a general strike to kick out this Tory government, and go forward to a workers’ government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and bring in a planned socialist economy.
Only socialism can ensure a decent life for every worker, both old and young.