Daily Express

Guar­an­teed ... state pen­sion rise of 2.5%

- By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

A BILL in Par­lia­ment will to­day avert a state pen­sion freeze next year and ful­fil the Gov­ern­ment’s triple- lock elec­tion pledge.

A slump in earn­ings this sum­mer due to the coro­n­avirus cri­sis would oth­er­wise lead to a zero rise in pen­sion pay­ments from next April.

Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Therese Cof­fey will in­tro­duce a tech­ni­cal Bill to al­low for a pen­sion rise of at least 2.5 per cent.

She said yes­ter­day: “The Gov­ern­ment has worked hard to pro­tect all age groups dur­ing the pan­demic, strengthen­ing the wel­fare safety net, in­tro­duc­ing fur­lough and in­come pro­tec­tion schemes, as well as sup­port­ing those who have lost their jobs back into work. It is only right, then, that we also en­sure pen­sion­ers can see their in­comes pro­tected as we build back bet­ter.

“In these dif­fi­cult times, I want to give pen­sion­ers peace of mind about their fi­nan­cial health.”

Un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s triple- lock pledge, the state pen­sion rises each year by the high­est in­crease out of av­er­age earn­ings, con­sumer prices or a min­i­mum of 2.5 per cent.

Cur­rent White­hall rules peg the pen­sion rise each April to av­er­age earn­ings in the pe­riod be­tween May and July in the pre­vi­ous year.

But of­fi­cials ex­pect a slight fall in av­er­age wage growth dur­ing the three- month pe­riod this year.

Of­fice for Na­tional Statis­tics data showed av­er­age weekly earn­ings fell by 1.2 per cent dur­ing May. It would mean a pen­sion freeze un­less the law is changed to en­sure in­fla­tion or the min­i­mum 2.5 per cent fig­ure is used in­stead.

Ms Cof­fey’s So­cial Se­cu­rity ( Up- Rat­ing of Ben­e­fits) Bill is de­signed to en­sure the Gov­ern­ment can stick to the triple- lock pledge.

Her move comes in spite of spec­u­la­tion that the pen­sion triple- lock could be tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended or even scrapped to help the Trea­sury claw back cash af­ter more than £ 190bil­lion was spent on emer­gency pan­demic mea­sures, send­ing this year’s Trea­sury deficit soar­ing to about £ 350bil­lion.

Chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak is un­der­stood to be press­ing Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son to let him aban­don the Tory man­i­festo in his next Bud­get.

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