Nick Ferrari grills Grant Shapps on triple lock
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He said Rishi Sunak would pay the price at the ballot box if he fails to stick by the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto promise for retirees in next week’s Autumn Statement.
Labour will ramp up pressure on the Tories to keep to their commitment in a Commons vote on Tuesday – challenging backbenchers to defy the government.
It comes as support for the Daily Express campaign to save the triple lock continues to grow with more than 286,000 people signing a petition to protect the benefit.
The triple lock vowed to increase the state pension by the highest of either the previous September’s inflation – which this time was 10.1 per cent – the rate of wage growth or 2.5 per cent.
The guarantee was halted for 2022-23 after the pandemic response caused an unusual eight per cent rise in earnings a year ago, when wages soared back up following the end of lockdown.
But its future has been placed in jeopardy as the government tries to fill a £60 billion black public funding black hole.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s much anticipated fiscal plan will be unveiled next Thursday.
Breaking the manifesto pledge would deprive people on the new state pension of £443 a year.
Mr Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said older voters would never forgive the Tories if they ditch the triple lock.
He said: “I would like to congratulate the Daily Express and its readers on its campaign to hold the government to their promise to keep the triple lock on pensions.
“But I am worried a great betrayal is about to be imposed on the country.”
He said Labour would guarantee the triple lock for next year but refused to commit to it if Labour won the next general election.
“Labour will always be the champion of rewarding pensioners,” he said.
Labour’s Opposition Day Debate in parliament could prove to be embarrassing for Mr Sunak.
The non-binding vote calls on the government to “commit to maintaining” the triple lock “as promised in the manifesto”.
Mr Ashworth said the Tories “betrayed pensioners” when the triple lock was broken earlier this year and that the Labour is demanding that it is not broken for next year.
“The vote is a key test for Tory MPs: Will they keep their election promise or once again betray the pensioners they’re supposed to represent?,” he said.
“Older people have already endured the largest ever real-terms cut to their State Pension and now face being another £440 worse off under the Tories.
“Labour will block any attempt by the Tories to break the Triple Lock for next year.
“We will always be on the side of pensioners, who have given our country so much and who deserve security and dignity in retirement.”
New analysis by Labour claims that dozens of Tory seats – including Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab – could be lost by the Tories at the next general election if the triple lock is scrapped.
The Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister are among Cabinet Ministers with more state pensioners in their constituency than their majority.
That means they risk being ousted if they scrap the triple lock and spark a mass revolt by pensioners, many of whom historically vote Conservative.
The analysis found that up to 21 Cabinet ministers’ seats are at risk.
A Tory source said: “Obviously we have been clear that some very difficult decisions lie ahead.
“The Secretary of State is conducting his statutory annual review of benefits and state pensions.
“The Govt has already underlined that any decision will be guided by fairness and a commitment to protect the most vulnerable.”
A binding vote on benefit and pension rises is due in February.
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