14 September 2023

Starmer refuses to commit to pensions triple lock

14 September 2023

Sir Keir Starmer has refused to commit to the continuation of the triple lock, but insisted there would be a “fair and decent pension” under a Labour government.

The Labour leader said he would not make manifesto commitments at this stage but blamed Rishi Sunak for the uncertainty facing pensioners.

The Government has insisted it is committed to the triple lock, but officials are considering tweaks to save money by changing the way the link to average earnings works.

Under the triple lock, pensions increase every year by inflation, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is highest.

But neither Labour nor the Tories will commit to maintaining the policy beyond the general election.

And with the figure used for average earnings set to hand pensioners an 8.5% increase, the Treasury is examining whether to strip out the impact of public sector bonuses to result in a rise of around 7.8%.

That could see pensioners miss out on up to £75 a year but save the taxpayer hundreds of millions.

Asked whether the triple lock would continue under Labour, Sir Keir told Times Radio: “I’m not going to set out our plans for after the election.

“What I will say is this: it was this Government that made the commitment in relation to the triple lock. It’s this Government that ought to keep the commitment that they’ve made, and it’s this Government that’s introduced the doubt now about the triple lock by suggesting that they’re not going to keep their pledge.

“So that’s, I think, the most central issue for pensioners. But will pensioners have a decent and fair pension under a Labour government? Of course they will.”

In response to Unite union chief Sharon Graham’s criticism of Sir Keir’s Labour as a “90s tribute act”, he pointed out that Sir Tony Blair won a landslide in 1997.

He said his critics “are not focusing on the future, they’re focusing on the past”.

“We are looking at the challenge of the next general election. But I remind myself that in the late 1990s we had a landslide Labour government and I want to see a Labour government back in power as soon as possible.”

But he added: “I’m not predicting a landslide. I remind myself every day that for the Labour Party to get from where it landed in 2019 to even a slender majority at the next general election would require a bigger swing than we had in 1997.

“That’s the scale of the task that we face.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox