Why we need the triple lock

440x210_pound-coins In a surprise announcement at the start of 2014 David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that maintaining the ‘triple lock’ for the basic state pension will be a key part of the Conservative’s next election manifesto. This would mean that, at least until 2020, the basic state pension would be increased annually by the rise in prices, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is higher. In response the Labour leader Ed Miliband has also said he is committed to the triple lock.

Reaction has been variable. Some newspapers immediately suggested this would affect other benefits such as the winter fuel payment – the Daily Mail’s headline was ‘Turmoil over OAP benefits’. The Independent welcomed the announcement but said it does not go far enough pointing out that the basic pension is still only £110 a week.

Alternatively, others have focussed on what this means for younger people with the Intergenerational Foundation stating the move is unaffordable and ‘betrays’ the younger generation.

The real impact of the triple lock 

So what impact does it actually have?  By April 2014 the Coalition’s commitment to the triple lock means the basic state pension will be £113.10 a week – around £8.50 a week higher than if it had been increased in line with earnings, and around £2 a week higher than if it has been linked to prices rises.

Other parts of retirement income are not of course increased by the triple lock – savings income is low and private pension income may not even keep pace with inflation.  So for current pensioners, while the basic pension on its own is still not enough to live on, the triple lock has provided an important boost in difficult times and helps ensure that the value of at least one part of their income is maintained. This is why Age UK has been campaigning for all parties to commit to the triple lock going forward and is very supportive of the recent announcements.

But we are also concerned about the position of future pensioners. Legislation before Parliament replaces the current complicated state pension system with a new single-tier pension for people reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2016. All the Government’s analysis on the impact of the new pension assumes it will be increased by the triple lock – but this is not set out in the legislation.

Unless this happens younger people will find it much harder to build up an adequate retirement income. The independent Pensions Policy Institute calculates a younger person with lower earnings has a 63 per cent chance of achieving an adequate retirement income if the state pension is increased by the triple lock, but this could fall to 36 per cent with an earnings link.

So far from the triple lock being unfair to younger people, if there is a commitment for it to apply to the new state pension, as well as the current system as Age UK is calling for, it could make all the difference to today’s younger generation.

It’s especially important to those struggling with low wages who can make limited private pension savings. Without the triple lock, they could find the value of their state pension – when they eventually receive it – has been eroded and is too low to enable them to achieve a comfortable retirement.

Read our latest Pensions Bill briefing 

Read consumer advice about pensions on the Age UK website

11 thoughts on “Why we need the triple lock”

  1. If the article in the paper I read is correct, it says that only Mexico out of all the developed nations pays a smaller basic pension to its pensioners. So while the triple lock is good, it is not something that makes pensioners well off. The paper I read suggested that giving with the right hand and taking away with the left could be the plan. I will wait the statement that says that free bus travel so that pensioners will not become prisoners in their own home will remain and that winter fuel allowance will stay. Untill then he has said nothing. While better off people, will be unlikely to be ever seen on a bus, for the ordinary people it is their lifeline.

    1. The media portray pensioners as living the life of Riley – all holidays and playing golf! It is all a con and people need to wake up to reality. He is out of touch with ordinary people Derek. He has made promises before regarding the State Pension and he has broken those promises.

      I would urge everyone to sign and share the petition below – we must show the ConDems that we will not tolerate their lies and deceit any longer.


  2. Cameron has the audacity to state that “I am determined to give people who have worked hard and done the right thing during their working lives real security and peace of mind in retirement”.

    How can he say this when the ConDems have already reneged on their promise re raising the State Pension age. “We will phase out the default retirement age and hold a review to set the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66, although it will not be sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women. We will end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75″.

    By doing so they have shattered the retirement plans and dreams of hundreds of thousands of us, especially those closest to retirement.

    However, Civil Servants, within 10 years of retirement age were given immunity from the changes to the Civil Service pension reforms. This was to ” Provide transitional protection for those closest to retirement”.

    MP’s and Judges are also protected from the changes to their pension schemes because “This protection strives to be fair to members who are close to their expected retirement age and are less able to change their plans than younger members”. Not only is this hypocrisy on their part it is also discrimination and therefore illegal.

    Please sign and share this if you disapprove of the discriminatory changes. Thanks

  3. …and the catch is you must vote for us first before we will give it to you. How many times must you people allow yourselves to be conned by these lying Politicians. They don’t say how old you will be before you can claim the Pension. My wife will have to wait another 8 years before she can start claiming it. She is 60 in May. Just because she is a couple of months outside the deadline date. You are not gaining anything in fact you will probably lose out because of the extra years before being able to start claiming. Do not be taken in by them. They speak with fork tounge.

  4. Well said Roger. I totally agree with you. I was 60 in June and have to wait until 2017 to receive my pension. If you haven’t already done so will you and your wife please sign and share my petition?

    This is an extract of a post my son made a few weeks ago, says it all really:-

    “My Ma retired yesterday. Deservedly so. She’s worked tirelessly for decades (since she was 15) and in the role she’s just left, changed the lives of the people whose community she served. That’s not biased sensationalism, that’s a statement of fact validated by the workers and residents who recently showed their appreciation for everything she’s done. What reward does my Ma get from the government now she’s completed her working life? Nothing.

    The State Pension to which she’s contributed for her entire working life is not available to her for another 4+ years. Why? Because an elitist group of politicians with no regard for the working class population said so.

    Like every working person in this country, my Ma has contributed to her State Pension fund with the understanding that it would be available to her when she reached the qualifying age. Now, and like almost every other working person in the country, she’s been subjected to a change in qualification criteria so although she’s reached the age where she deserves to retire, she’s not able to receive her pension. Not a donation or a gesture of good will, her pension. Her own money.

    To date, this petition started by my Ma has received over 5,000 signatures. That’s great, it really is, but that is a tiny, tiny percentage of the number of people who this affects. It’s not just about those close to retirement; unless you’re one of the protected few (you know, like the politicians who made this decision. Who’d have saw that coming?), then it affects you.

    Help raise awareness of something that the vile, right-wing media are choosing to not report on and show the odious b******* making these decisions that people power is not dead and can’t be ignored.

    So for my Ma, for you, your parents or for anyone you know who has been or will be affected by this legalised theft, sign this petition and share the link”.



  5. Thinking about it a bit more, the likelihood is that people will get inflation. Now is someone has an employment pension as well, no matter how small then this increase will be taxed. Inflation is the real cost of how much things have gone up by so what you will receive after tax will be less than that so the pensions will in real terms go down, even without stopping the other benefits. Now if you have tried to save some money for your retirement, the cartel of banks and building societies have got together and there is nothing out there that is offering an interest rate that will match inflation, and that is before tax is taken off. So any savings will be shrinking in real terms and state pensions will be shrinking in real times and as for the myth that everyone will live to be 100, follow the news this year and take note of the age at which the celebrities who make the news die and it is not showing much increase. If Cameron wishes to offer anything in an effort to get votes then he should maybe offer something which doe not rely on the assumption that old people are not very bright any more and will not be able to work out that it is not good deal. Petition signed.

    1. Thank you both. The petition is gathering momentum – now stands at 5933 – 200 more people, who are sick and tired of this government, have signed since yesterday!! Onwards & Upwards.

  6. This government has reneaged on every promise its made
    biggest being immense damage its done to savers who they promised to help
    add on forcing millions of women to work another 4 yrs despite being 60 this year
    UK state pension is worst in the developed world bar Mexico and we are robbed at every turn

  7. Hi Helen,

    Your correct about the Government renegading on promises. At the moment the DWP pay cost of living on a contracted out pension (GMP) with a persons additional state pension. If a person reaches state pension age after the single-tier pension starts on 6 April 2016 they will no longer receive cost of living increases on their GMP payable by DWP. The GMP is part of their occupational scheme. The potential loss for a high earner female is about £23,000 and man £17,000. This is mentioned in a article in the Saturday Independent by a Neasa a Macerlean. Steve Webb and DWP deny that the DWP have ever paid GMP increases. If you look at any contracted out final salary scheme yo will see that it states DWP is responsible for paying all or part of GMP increases. This does not appear in any Government document.

    If this effects you, write to Steve Webb via your MP.

  8. There is one question that is not being asked by the media in the election and has not been addressed by any party. The agreed pension reform is to raise the guaranteed minimum state pension to a forecasted £153/week after 2016, BUT only for people who retire after 2016. Those pensioners retiring before then, and the nearly 10 million pensioners who have already retired, will not be included in this guaranteed minimum state pension. For them they will receive only the existing state pension £115.95 for 2015 (possibly raised to near £120 for 2016). This will be £30+/ week below what is being guaranteed for people retiring after 2016. That is a lower state pension payment to the 10 million already retired of approximately £1,560/year.
    In 2011 the Government was asked a Parliamentary Question as to the estimated cost of topping up the gross State Pension entitlement of all people who had already reached State Pension age before 2016/17 to a flat rate of at least £140/week proposed for those retiring after 2016/17. The answer then was, it would cost around £10 billion a year, therefore, the proposal was rejected.
    The question that needs to be asked and addressed by all parties in this election is – “Why should up to 10 million existing pensioners (the majority of whom will vote) be deprived of that £10 billion of pension payouts just because they reached retirement age before 2016?”

    Are UK pensioners aware that in 2011 the Government estimated that topping up the gross State Pension entitlement of all people who had already reached the state pension age before 2016/17 to a flat rate (as promised for the new retirees) of at least £140/week would cost around £10 billion a year. It was rejected! So those already retired will not be given the same benefits as those retiring after 2016/17 will be given, i.e. they will lose out on £10 billion/year because they will not be treated in the same way as their younger retirees. All parties are remarkably silent on this. The question is this 10 million people over 65, 10 million voters.

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