Kevin Pattison, chair, Leeds and Wakefield Unite Community, retired
In the recent budget the Tory government chose to cut taxes on champagne and on banks rather than keeping the triple lock on state pensions. Millions of pensioners have only the state pension to live on, but it is one of the lowest in Europe.
The triple lock meant that state pensions increased by whichever is the highest – wages, inflation, or 2.5%. After promising in their manifesto to keep the triple lock, the government has decided to do away with it this year because, it claims, average wages have gone up so much this year.
This will come as a surprise to NHS workers who have been offered only 3%, ie less than inflation, and other public sector workers who have been told that their pay freeze imposed last November will end next April, but have been offered nothing yet.
There has been a ‘revolt’ in the House of Lords about the ending of the triple lock, and there will be a further vote in parliament on 15 November. The National Pensioners Convention is encouraging people to write to their MPs about this, hoping for yet another government U-turn.
There are around 20,000 hypothermia-related deaths of pensioners each year. To take away the triple lock just as gas and electricity prices are going through the roof will cause more pensioners to have to choose between heating and eating. The Department for Work and Pension’s £200 per household seasonal fuel payment will make only a small dent in this winter’s bills.