Monday, 13 January 2014

The Triple Lock



Over the weekend David Cameron made a really important pledge to continue the ‘triple lock’ protection for pensions if the Conservatives win the next election. This promise was one of the key Conservative manifesto commitments during the election almost three years ago and an election victory would mean it would continue to at least 2020. I think this pledge is really important because the idea is straightforward and because it offers huge peace of mind to people drawing pensions up and down the country and especially in Cornwall.

The ‘triple lock’ is simple. It ensures that state pension pay rises by whichever is higher out of inflation, wages or 2.5%. It also protects the state pension from variation in the economy, because it doesn’t attach payments in any way to average earnings which can fluctuate all the time. By April this year, the basic state pension will be £440 a year more than if it had been pegged to average earnings from 2011 onwards. That is a substantial amount and a huge help in what has been difficult economic times.

I think the ‘triple lock’ has been a success for the Government and this pledge offers some reassurance for those in retirement. Our pensioners are people who have contributed a huge amount to society and have been sensible in saving money for the future. After a life of hard work and supporting their families, they deserve a dignified old age without financial worry and a pension that provides some security for them. When I meet either groups of older people or individuals I am often reminded of how their pension offers a real lifeline and the capacity for independence which could otherwise be lost.

Some people are critical of the policy and say that pensioners should face cuts too but I think that ignores the fact that people have contributed all their lives. It is strange to criticise a protection for those who have already done their bit.

However, helping provide a little more security for pensioners doesn't negate the need for us to help the next generation too. In many ways it is a difficult time for school leavers who have to contribute more to their university education and young families who find it hard to raise the deposit to buy their first home. It is why schemes like the Help to Buy initiative to help people with their deposit are so important and why we must do more to encourage apprenticeships to give school leavers a good start. This weekend I will be attending the launch of a great initiative from Truro College that wants to encourage business to employ more apprentices throughout Cornwall and is just one example of the important steps being taken to support those just starting their working lives.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.