June 19 2020 As predicted in last week’s Retired Members Website and Facebook page the controversy over the Triple Lock has not disappeared. The newspapers and mainstream media has been full of speculation regarding the future of the State Pension with commentators going as far as saying that a statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, on the issue was imminent. Other government spokespersons, including the Prime Minister, have denied that they are about to ditch the 2.5% minimum annual increase stating that it was an ‘election promise’ that they wouldn’t be breaking. Whatever they finally decide to do, we all know that politicians change their policies and break promises, particularly when they can argue that an economic crisis has forced them to. The TUC has been quick to challenge the speculation and have strongly condemned the idea and protection for the Triple Lock was in Labour’s manifesto although there has been little from them on the current controversy. In this week’s Guardian, influential columnist Polly Toynbee has attacked the triple lock suggesting that it must go because it is unfair to younger people. So attacks on pensioners entitlements are coming from several political directions. Although the Triple Lock is important to existing pensioners it probably more important to future pensioners. The mechanism is not only designed to ensure that the State Pension is undercut by inflation and price increases but to also increase its value over a period of time. Forty years ago the UK could boast the best occupational pensions in the developed world. However successive governments have introduced policies that have undermined their value and future generations will not enjoy the benefits of the occupational pensions that some current pensioners enjoy. They will become more reliant on a State Pension that is currently the lowest in the developed world. The Triple Lock is gradually increasing the value of the State Pension which will be essential for the UK pensioners of the future as the value of occupational pensions decline. However numerous think tanks and their political allies are not interested in this and are determined to not only undermine the State Pension but other entitlements that pensioners enjoy. Millions of today’s pensions have only the State Pension to rely on and any freeze or decline in its value will lead to a big increase in pensioner poverty. This week Senior Deputy General Secretary, Tony Kearns has written to branches regarding the Unions campaign to defend the Triple Lock. Attached to the LTB is a template letter that we are asking branches, retired members and working members to use in order to contact their MPs. Alternatively the MPs can be contacted by email or their local surgeries or constituency offices. Members of Parliament are rarely influenced by the strength of an argument because they are tied to their respective party’s national policies. They are affected, however, by a threat to their parliamentary seats. Those in marginals are obviously more likely to be influenced by local pressure. It’s an accepted fact that the majority of older people and pensioners didn’t vote Labour in the last election so the Conservative Party has a lot to lose if they alienate older voters. It’s very important that as much pressure as possible is put on all MPs and the Retired Members Committee is asking you to give your support to this campaign and in particular we are asking our 17,000 retired members to become involved. The last posting on our Facebook page regarding this issue was viewed by over 2,680 people, exceeding the previous highest number, on the same issue, of 1,380. This shows that there is a great deal of support for this campaign if we can mobilise it.
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