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Duncan Smith urges review of pension 'triple lock'

(Update) Former work and pensions secretary says government must reconsider expensive protection to state pension.

Duncan Smith urges review of pension 'triple lock'

(Updated with Number 10 and DWP responses)

Former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has urged the government to reconsider its ‘triple lock’ on the state pension.

Duncan Smith (pictured) resigned on Friday evening. In his resignation letter he described proposed cuts to disability benefits as a ‘compromise too far.’

Following his resignation Duncan Smith told the BBC the government needed to rethink the ‘triple lock’ on state pension rises to stop benefit cuts hitting only those of working age.

‘We have a triple lock on pensions which I was proud to do six years ago, but with inflation running at zero, we really need to look at things like this and ask “do we just keep saying it’s working age [people] who bear the brunt [of cuts],’ he said.

The triple lock has been one of the Conservative party’s key pension policies since it was introduced by the coalition government in April 2012.

It ensures the value of the state pension will rise by the highest measure of inflation, wages, or 2.5%. At the start of this parliament the government pledged to continue with the policy.

However, pressure has grown to scrap the triple lock at a time of cuts across the benefit budget.

Last year the Government Actuary department published a report which said the total cost of the policy could be ‘significantly greater’ than first thought. The report was later taken down from the government website.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has also warned that the policy risks undermining chancellor George Osborne’s commitment to reaching a surplus by 2020.

Despite criticism for the triple lock, Duncan Smith is one of the few politicians to have publicly called for it to be reviewed.

Even Labour has stopped short of saying it should be cut. Shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith said the party would look at pensioner benefits but added the party did not think pensioners should be a target for cuts.

‘I do think we need to look at all of these things long term, but obviously it will be for a Labour government when we get closer to the next election to look at the absolute specifics of all of those pensioner benefits,’ he said.

‘The last Labour government worked incredibly hard to raise pensioners out of poverty. We were incredibly successful in that regard … and I don’t think that they ought to be the target for cuts, just as I don’t think the disabled should be the target for cuts, there are a million other choices the government could have taken.’ 

A spokesman for the prime minister told Citywire that the government had no plans to change the policy and declined to comment further. 'There is no change to the government's position,' he said.

When asked for comment about Duncan Smith's assertions, a spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said that the issue was one for the Treasury to consider. 'We don't have anything to add on this,' she said.

'The triple lock is a Treasury policy anyway so we don't have anything to add.'

The Treasury was contacted for comment but has not responded.

11 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Pat Strong

Mar 21, 2016 at 18:00

The triple lock is 'bound' to go, why then does Ros Altmann and the DWP insist on using this as one of the main justifications for failing to honour past GMP increases and inherited SERPS. We all know triple lick will go, but bloody well be honest about it.

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Chris Todd Davies

Mar 21, 2016 at 18:28

It is so typical of both Labour and Conservatives that they do not want to upset the grey vote at the expense of youngsters.

Many of the sub 35's don't vote at all and therefore Osborne calculates he can get away with cutting their income when rents and house prices are rising whilst salaries are suppressed.

As for the disabled who are getting PIP the whole slant of the last budget is disgusting.

At least IDS has shown the guts to 'think the unthinkable' and be honest with the electorate. Our politicians need to do what is right for the country and not what will get them re-elected. This seems a major flaw of the democratic system.

I am 65 and would willingly accept an inflation-based rise on my state pension. My private final salary pension already has this reasonable link.

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Michael Stevens

Mar 21, 2016 at 19:00

Owen Smith said there are a million different choices to make cuts, but he did not name any. Labour are all mouth and no true policy.

Please would you contact Mr. Smith for his answer

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Mar 21, 2016 at 19:27

For some reason I think IDSs decision is much more about unstabalising the Euro referendum than anything to do with a care for the poor.

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Mar 21, 2016 at 19:31

"but with inflation running at zero"

Council tax up 4%, dental charges up 5%, Insurance premium tax up 3.5% and so on.

Which inflation is it that is running at zero Iain?

After several years of keeping inflation low, this Government now appears to be starting to use inflation as a tool to reduce the deficit.

We will soon be grateful for the rises we got in the salad days of the triple lock.

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Chris Todd Davies

Mar 21, 2016 at 19:33

Hey come on he is a traditional tory. Also he is correct to 'upset the applecart'.

No chance for him to progress within this Conservative party.

I am strongly against Brexit but for the 'common man'.

There is 'RIGHT' and 'Correct' and they are very different/

Let's hope we stay in.

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Mar 21, 2016 at 19:48

When the Government t talk about triple lock one thing they don't tell people is that if a person has a GMP or state second pension they wont receive any increases this year. For some people their GMP or state pension can be more than their basic state pension. They are very keen to mention the triple lock but fail to mention no increases this year on GMP or state second pension.

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Chris Todd Davies

Mar 21, 2016 at 19:51

Good point. I was not aware of this.

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fred the shred

Mar 21, 2016 at 21:32

We have some of the poorest government pensions in the western world already and to now consider cutting back the miserly increases below 2.5% pa would be a really stupid short sighted policy. I thought the long term aim was to pay everyone a decent pension that would not have to be topped up with benefits . if this was to happen then we are back to square one again .

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Mar 21, 2016 at 23:04

63 million in the UK, 31 million in work, just doesn't add up, simples!

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Dennis .

Mar 21, 2016 at 23:56

Yes I checked my pension statement and the SSP or second state pension is effectively frozen as the CPI was -0.1% this year. In my case it's about £80/week

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