‘What have we put these people in government for? They’re supposed to be looking after all the people that have built up society’.
Inews reports that many pensioners will refuse to support the Conservative Party at the next general election if ministers scrap the state pension triple lock in response to the pandemic, campaigners have warned.
The party will be “null and void” for older people who believe the leadership is deserting them, one life-long Conservative voter told i.
“We silver surfers put Boris [Johnson] in power, but I am afraid we will all be placing our votes in a different camp next time,” said 74- year-old Peter Bradbourne, who lives in North Yorkshire.
And Silver Voices, which campaigns for the over-60s, warned that its members might “actively campaign against the Conservatives at the next election”.
The triple lock ensures that the state pension is boosted every April by whichever is the highest of inflation, earnings growth or a 2.5 per cent floor. Despite promising to maintain the policy at the last general election, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to amend it.
The increase for 2022 is set to be unusually high due to the effect of the pandemic on earnings – meaning the cost of the triple lock will balloon for the Government. Meanwhile, many working-age people will be worse off because of the end of the Universal Credit
Responding to the prospect of the triple lock policy being watered down, Mr Bradbourne said: “I wanted to tear my hair out because I thought, ‘What have I put these people in government for?’
“They’re supposed to be looking after all the people that have built up society… from all the years that we spent working. “It is the first time in my life that I think we’ve got a bit of a silly government…
There doesn’t seem to be any long-term thinking.” Mr Bradbourne, a retired entrepreneur, understood the Government’s concerns over the cost of the triple lock but added: “That’s part of the package that they bought into. It’s like spoiled schoolboys now, they don’t want to do it.”
Some pensioners could be forced to use food banks, he warned, adding that there was a misconception among younger generations that older people are wealthy.
“Our mantra was that if you couldn’t afford it, you didn’t get it. I think youngsters should be cognisant of the fact that we put a lot of hard work in.” Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, said older people felt as though their votes were being taken for granted by the
Conservatives. “A lot of our members who are Conservative voters have been saying if the triple lock is scrapped or suspended, that will be the final straw,” said Mr Reed.
“It comes (amid) what we see as a series of attacks on pensioners,” he added, referring to the end of universal free TV licences and the consultation on increasing free prescription eligibility from 60 to 66. His members, he said, may “actively campaign against the Conservatives at the next election”.
The Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign called on the Government to “think very carefully about destabilising
women’s financial independence further” by amending the triple lock, adding that women born in the 1950s are likely to be entirely reliant on the state pension for retirement.
The group signalled that some women may decide to turn their back on the Government should the triple lock be amended.
“Although Waspi works cross-party, many women have indicated to us that the way they have been ignored when raising their issue of lack of notice about a six year increase to their state pension age has changed their outlook politically,” said the group. Women who have waited so long for their expected state pension, and suffered the consequences of that, will be further affected financially by any effort to remove the “triple lock by the Government”.
Daniela Silcock, head of policy research at the Pensions Policy Institute, said: “Removing the triple lock entirely would negatively impact those on low incomes… and younger people, who would receive a lower state pension income when they reached retirement.”
Ms Silcock said that using “a temporarily altered earnings smoothing mechanism” for the triple lock would save around £15bn. “However, any decision regarding the triple lock would require thought about the trade-offs between the potential long term costs to the state and long-term benefits to individuals.”
The Treasury said: “We will continue to support retired people while ensuring future decisions are fair for both pensioners and taxpayers. The Government will confirm next year’s state pension rates in the autumn.”
(Story source: Inews)