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Pensions Triple Lock

Volume 565: debated on Tuesday 25 June 2013

The triple lock means that the level of the full basic state pension is now £6.85 a week higher than it would have been if it had been uprated only by earnings since 2011-12. That equates to about £356 a year. The average person reaching state pension age in 2013 with a full basic state pension can expect to receive an additional £12,000 in basic state pension over their retirement, thanks to the triple lock.

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the triple lock will prevent a repeat of the disgraceful situation in which pensioners received a pension increase of only 75p?

I certainly can confirm that. Putting in a floor of a 2.5% increase in the basic state pension will prevent that disgraceful situation, and I can tell my hon. Friend that, thanks to the triple lock, the basic state pension now represents a higher share of average earnings than at any time since 1992.

Let me be clear that we on the Opposition Benches do support the triple lock on pensions. However, at a time when our NHS and social care are under such pressure, why do the Government think it is a priority to continue to pay the winter fuel allowance to the richest 5% of pensioners?

The hon. Lady says that Opposition Members support the triple lock, but they did not introduce it when they were in office. The shadow Chancellor wishes to include the basic state pension in his short-term cap of welfare spending. Let me tell the Labour party what that might mean. Last year, the welfare forecast increased by £2.3 billion; if the pension had been included in the welfare cap, as the shadow Chancellor suggests, it would have meant freezing the basic state pension this year, not increasing it as planned. That is what Labour really means on pensions. I am certainly willing to look at the payment of winter allowance to wealthy pensioners; I am sure it will be a matter to discuss at the next election.