Pensioners face a tough, bleak year, Labour warns

The Bank of England has warned inflation could hit 7.25% by April.

Richard Wheeler
Sunday 06 February 2022 22:30
(PA)
(PA)

Pensioners face a “tough, bleak year”, Labour has warned ahead of MPs approving a “real terms cut” to the state pension.

A 3.1% rise from April will see the basic state pension increase to £141.85 per week and the full rate of the new state pension rise to £185.15 per week.

But critics have argued the change, using the September Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, amounts to a real terms cut when set against rising living costs.

The Bank of England has warned inflation could hit 7.25% by April. MPs will have an opportunity to vote on the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2022 on Monday.

Jon Ashworth (Victoria Jones/PA)

Labour says its analysis of the state pension increases compared to inflation projections suggests a real terms cut of up to £355 for a couple on the basic state pension, and £222 for an individual.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth said: “Not only have Tory MPs broken their manifesto commitment to the pension triple lock, today they will endorse Boris Johnson’s plan to cut the value of the basic state pension by hundreds of pounds, wiping out any gain from the energy loan scheme.

“This real terms cut on top of rocketing heating bills, price rises and cuts to other support such as the free TV license means thousands of pensioners face a tough, bleak year faced with impossible choices between heating or eating.”

Protections for pensions were modified for 2022/23 by legislation approved in November amid concerns of an unaffordable rise caused by the impact of the coronavirus on wages.

The triple-lock guarantees that pensions grow in line with whichever is highest out of earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

But the earnings element has been suspended for the year ahead after ministers warned distortions in wages during the pandemic could have resulted in pensioners receiving an 8.3% increase.

Peers and some MPs argued for the earnings element to be retained, but the Government’s proposals to temporarily move to a double lock were approved.

A Government spokesperson said: “We know this has been a challenging time for many people, which is why we’re providing support worth around £12 billion this financial year and next to help households across the country with the cost of living.

“A further £9 billion has been announced by the Chancellor this week to protect against the impact of rising global energy prices. Combined with last year’s 2.5% increase to pensions, we have ensured pensioners’ incomes have been protected.

“Our winter fuel payments are supporting over 11 million pensioners with their energy bills and we are continuing to encourage those eligible for Pension Credit, and the wide range of other benefits it can provide, to make a claim.”

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