Politics Explained

Tories should fear the impact of this week’s miserly pension rise

Short-changed pensioners will punish the government in next month’s elections, says Sean O’Grady

Monday 11 April 2022 19:09
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<p>At a time of life when they are least able to do much about their financial situation, many pensioners are facing a bleak immediate future</p>

At a time of life when they are least able to do much about their financial situation, many pensioners are facing a bleak immediate future

To understand the political damage that this week’s miserly 3.1 per cent rise in pensions can do, it is only necessary to remind ourselves about electoral demographics. Britain’s pensioners gave Boris Johnson his majority in parliament in 2019, and what they give, they can take away. Indeed, at the council and devolved parliament elections on 6 May, there is every chance that they will make their wrath felt.

The importance of the grey vote to the Conservatives is stark. In 2019, some 67 per cent of the over-70s voted Conservative, and only 14 per cent for Corbyn’s Labour. By contrast, 56 per cent of the 18-24-year-olds voted Labour, and a remarkably low 21 per cent went for Johnson.

What should be happening this week, under a manifesto commitment, is an increase under the so-called “triple lock” that matches whichever is largest out of wage rises, price increases as they were running last autumn, or a minimum of 2.5 per cent. That would have meant a rise of some 8 per cent, matching extraordinary recent rapid wage growth – about £14 or so. But the triple lock was turned into a double lock when the Treasury saw this coming, and so the rise will instead match the consumer price index last year, at 3.1 per cent. This looks even worse considering inflation is now at 5.5 per cent and look set to approach 10 per cent.

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