Clare Wilkins, Secretary East Midlands National Pensioners’ Convention (personal capacity) and Socialist Party member
The triple lock introduced by the coalition Tory-Lib Dem government in 2010 meant the state pension should rise each year by 2.5%, CPI inflation, or the average increase in wages, whichever is highest. The state pension goes up in April, using figures from the previous September.
This year pensions went up 10.1%, in line with inflation. It was a hard fight to keep the pressure up to defend the triple lock and secure this increase. Various Tory prime ministers have threatened the triple lock as they have come in and out of the revolving door of 10 Downing Street. This has meant great uncertainty for poorer pensioners during the cost-of-living crisis, as they have faced decisions about eating or heating.
Wages have risen by an average of 8.5%, the result of workers fighting back and taking strike action. This should be the amount that pensions go up by, at the very least. Tory Minister Mel Stride said that the government was ‘committed’ to the triple lock, but the one-off public sector payments striking workers won this year may not be included in the calculations.
Former Tory leader William Hague wrote in The Times that neither Tories nor Labour could commit “electoral suicide” by promising to scrap the triple lock alone, but “sometimes in politics, you have to help each other out a bit”. Keir Starmer’s Labour and the Tories have both refused to commit to the triple lock being in their election manifestos. Once again showing Starmer is appealing to big business and is not on the side of workers and pensioners.
Our state pension is already the lowest in Europe. Workers and older people have to fight together in the trade unions to safeguard pensions and the triple lock. In the pro-capitalist media the triple lock is said to be unaffordable and unfair to workers. But workers are future pensioners. The Socialist Party fights for decent pensions we can live on and lowering the retirement age. The wealth is there but it is in the wrong hands. We need to nationalise the banks and big businesses to run society on a democratic basis – to provide a decent wage and pension for all.