The Express is on the brink of a major victory this morning, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak preparing to announce he will honour the state pension triple lock. Hundreds of thousands of Britons have joined our crusade over the past week to demand the Government stick by the 2019 election manifesto pledge.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has sent the Government’s official spending watchdog, the Office of Budget Responsibility, his plans for the Autumn Budget later this month.
Last night reports emerged that sticking by the state pension triple lock and plans to increase benefits in line with inflation were among assumptions taken by the Treasury.
The news will come as a huge relief to pensioners who have spent weeks facing uncertainty and fears of a real-terms cut to their weekly payments.
Mr Sunak threw the triple lock promise into doubt shortly after entering No10 when he refused to commit to sticking by the pledge.
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The Prime Minister’s press secretary said Mr Sunak would “do what is right and compassionate” but would not give further details.
“I’m not getting into speculation on what is going to happen,” she added.
“A lot of these things have to be discussed with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor I’m not going to speculate on what is and isn’t going to be in the Budget.
“I’m not going to comment on what decisions are going to be made. The PM’s only been in office for the last 24 hours.”
The triple lock guarantees state pensions will rise in line with inflation or wages or by 2.5 per cent, depending on which is the highest. Spiralling inflation rose to 10.1 percent in September.
The benefit’s future was placed in jeopardy as the Government tries to fill a £60 billion black public funding black hole.
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Mr Hunt was understood to have been considering instead linking the state pension increase to average earnings, approximately 5.5 percent, almost half the rise in inflation.
Breaking the manifesto pledge would deprive people on the new state pension of £443 a year and would have meant 12.5 million Britons being dealt a real-terms cut in earnings next year.
Fears the Government was ready to abandon the pledge came after Mr Sunak also suspended the triple lock for 12 months this year following the pandemic after the end of the furlough scheme led to average wages being artificially inflated.
Tory backbenchers have rallied behind the Express crusade to warn the Government not to backtrack on the pension commitment.
Hopes the triple lock will remain come on the same day Labour is planning to ramp up pressure on Mr Sunak by forcing a Commons vote on the issue this afternoon.
Labour’s Opposition Day Debate in parliament calls on the Government to “commit to maintaining” the triple lock “as promised in the manifesto”.
It risks embarrassing Mr Sunak if Tory MPs side with Labour in the non-binding vote.
Jon Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, told the Express: “I would like to congratulate the Daily Express and its readers on its campaign to hold the government to their promise to keep the triple lock on pensions.”
He added: “Labour will always be the champion of rewarding pensioners.”
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s much anticipated fiscal plan will be unveiled next Thursday.