I believe that everyone deserves financial security in retirement and that the cornerstone of that is a decent State Pension, properly indexed to ensure it keeps its value for future generations of pensioners.
The Government made a manifesto commitment in 2019 to maintain the triple lock, under which pensions rise each year in line with average earnings, inflation, or by 2.5%, whichever is higher.
However, on 7 September 2021, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced that it would be unfair to apply the triple lock for the financial year 2022/23 because average earnings are estimated to have risen by 8% this year. She argued that this rise is a “statistical anomaly” created by the large number of people who saw their earnings fall during lockdown. She announced that, for 2022/23 only, Ministers will propose that the State Pension increases by 2.5% or in line with inflation, whichever is higher.
In my view, Ministers need to be fully transparent about the reasons behind this decision and the evidence that they have relied on. My Opposition Colleagues and I are calling on them to publish the Treasury’s official analysis.
The Government should also explain why it could not assess the underlying levels of wage growth with the impact of furlough discounted and it should publish the legal advice cited by the Secretary of State as the basis for her decision.
Lastly, we need to know what options are being considered beyond 2021, and if there is an intention to continue the triple lock across future years of this Parliament.
I can assure you that my Opposition Colleagues and I will continue to question the Government on these three points and advocate for a pension system that is sustainable, sufficient and able to meet the challenges of an ageing population.