Theresa May has repeatedly refused to commit to keeping the state pension’s “triple lock” in the Conservatives’ general election manifesto.
The lock, which Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, confirmed would be retained by his party guarantees that the state pension increases by at least 2.5 per cent annually.
But when asked by Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster, whether the triple lock would survive post-election, Ms May replied: “I’ve been very clear that under this Government we have seen pensioners benefit as a result of what we’ve done to the basic state pension to the tune of £1,250 a year.
Speaking during the final Prime Minister’s Questions of this Parliament before the general election, Ms May continued: “I am clear under Conservative Government incomes would continue to increase”.
Mr Roberston continued: “I asked the Prime Minister a pretty simple question – it’s a yes or a no and the Prime Minister failed to answer. Pensioners right across this land are right to conclude that this Tory Prime Minister plans to ditch the triple lock on state pensions.
The failure to commit to retaining the lock, introduced during the coalition, will undoubtedly provide further hints that the Prime Minister is considering ditching the safeguard. Cabinet ministers told The Times, however, that Ms May is concerned about conceding the area to Labour.
One senior figure said: “It’s a matter of pretty intense debate about whether to include it in the manifesto.”
Baroness Altmann, a former Conservative pensions minister, has previously warned that the cost of keeping the safeguard in place would be “enormous” after 2020 and that it should be dropped in order to save the Treasury billions. At the time, however, Downing Street said the commitment “still stands”.
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has previously said: “Theresa May’s refusal to commit the Tories to maintaining the pensions triple lock only further proves the Tories are abandoning older people.
“It’s now clear pensions protections are now in jeopardy.
“Labour will stand up for older people by maintaining the pensions triple lock and by keeping the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes so that the elderly can go about their lives with the dignity they deserve.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies