Younger generations have accepted extraordinary constraints to protect us from coronavirus. We can’t justify a system that favours wealthy pensioners
A volcanic eruption is about to explode the government’s triple lock on pensions. There is no way the Tories can or will keep their pledge/bribe, introduced by the coalition government in 2011, to guarantee the state pension will always rise by either 2.5%, the rate of average national earnings growth or the rate of inflation, whichever is higher. The policy was maintained during a decade of near-stagnant incomes for most. Abandoning it – however rational and inevitable in these extraordinary economic times – will hurt. With the political stage strewn with Covid-19 memorials to older people who died partly through the neglect of care homes, this risks marking the end of Tory hegemony over the pensioner vote.
Here’s why the triple lock’s future is in question. This year, the earnings of millions plunged by 20% when they were furloughed, while pensioners were still getting their 2.5% rise. Next year, with luck, many people will see incomes bounce back, while others will be unemployed with no earnings to count; if average earnings soar, freakishly, by 18%, then pensioners get an 18% rise too in a dismal recession for most. The triple lock will go or be suspended, but after that, should it return?