EU referendum: David Cameron warns Brexit will threaten state pensions

‘Triple lock’ protection on state pension payments could be affected by vote to leave the EU

Tom Peck@tompeck
Sunday 12 June 2016 10:20
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The Prime Minister also warned of potential damage to the NHS and defence
The Prime Minister also warned of potential damage to the NHS and defence

David Cameron has said that a vote for Brexit poses a risk to state pensions, as well as the NHS and defence.

The predicted ‘economic shock’ caused by a vote to leave the European Union would threaten what’s known as the ‘triple lock’ protection on state pension payments, and the ring fencing of the NHS budget.

"If we leave the EU, independent and respected experts like the IFS and the NIESR say that by 2020 we will face a black hole in our public finances of up to £40 billion,” Mr Cameron told the Observer.

"In those circumstances, future funding for the NHS could be at risk. Our ability to ring-fence and protect spending on health could be at risk too.

"This is the cold reality of leaving the EU - that's why doctors, nurses and the boss of the NHS all say we will be stronger, safer and better-off in the EU."

Chancellor George Osborne reductions in the tax take as a consequence of the shrinkage of the UK economy as a whole could lead to a reduction in defence spending of more than £1bn.

The Remain camp sought to press home its central message of likely economic turmoil in the event of a vote to quit the bloc on June 23 amid signs of a hardening of public opinion against the EU.

Vote Leave downplayed the accuracy of a poll giving it a 10-point lead though many of its campaigners seized on the survey as proof the momentum was firmly towards divorce from Brussels.

The top Tory pair insisted that they remained committed to manifesto promises to protect funding in the three areas.

But Mr Cameron told the Observer: "If we leave the EU, independent and respected experts like the IFS and the NIESR say that by 2020 we will face a black hole in our public finances of up to £40 billion.

"In those circumstances, future funding for the NHS could be at risk. Our ability to ring-fence and protect spending on health could be at risk too.

"This is the cold reality of leaving the EU - that's why doctors, nurses and the boss of the NHS all say we will be stronger, safer and better-off in the EU."

In an article in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron said his government had made a “special effort to protect pensioners” through the "triple lock" that guarantees state pensions will rise in line with earnings, inflation or by 2.5%, whichever is higher.

"We did all this in the expectation of a growing economy. But if we had a big black hole, we could struggle to justify this special protection any longer.

"In fact, even if we could justify it morally, it wouldn't actually be affordable. Not when pensions represent a huge portion of public spending - over £90 billion this year - and when inflation is forecast to hit 4% if we leave Europe.

"So here is the reality: if we leave, the pensioner benefits would be under threat, and the Triple Lock could no longer be guaranteed in the long term."

The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.

What is Brexit and why are we having an EU referendum?

Will we gain or lose rights by leaving the European Union?

What will happen to immigration if there's Brexit?

Will Brexit make the UK more or less safe?

Will the UK benefit from being released from EU laws?

Will leaving the EU save taxpayers money and mean more money for the NHS?

What will Brexit do to UK trade?

How Brexit will affect British tourism

What will Brexit mean for British tourists booking holidays in the EU?

Will Brexit help or damage the environment?

Will Brexit mean that Europeans have to leave the UK?

What will Brexit mean for British expats?

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