UK state pension could rise by almost 8% as Sunak commits to triple lock

Introduced by the Tory-led coalition government in 2010, the triple lock is seen as an important issue for older voters

The base state pension rate is currently worth £203.85 per week. PA
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The UK state pension could go up next year by almost 8 per cent, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak committed to maintaining the “triple lock”.

The state pension is uprated in April. Under the triple lock, it is based on inflation, wages or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher.

At the moment, wage growth is currently the highest of the three, reaching 7.8 per cent in June compared with the same period 12 months earlier.

Mr Sunak said the government was “committed to its policy on the triple lock”.

Asked by ITV News during a visit to Leicester on Wednesday whether he was uncomfortable with potentially uprating the state pension by almost 8 per cent, Mr Sunak said: “No, I think the most important thing is that we continue to bring inflation down more generally.

“But while inflation is higher than we would like, I also believe it is right to step in and help people with the pressures that it brings.”

Listing financial support given to the public, including assistance with energy bills and cost-of-living relief payments, the Conservative Party leader said it was “right” that the government helped the “most vulnerable through a tough time” while tackling inflation.

Mr Sunak has made halving inflation by the end of the year one of his top five priorities ahead of a likely general election in 2024.

He committed to bringing down Consumer Prices Index inflation to about 5.3 per cent by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics said the CPI was 6.8 per cent in July, down from 7.9 per cent in June.

But rising wages could lead to a jump in inflation as a result of increased spending.

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While outside of the 2023 time frame set by the Prime Minister for his target, an increase in the state pension could also fuel inflation for similar reasons.

Mr Sunak said pay rises needed to become “sustainable” but said the government would not “intervene” in private sector salary increases.

“I want people to be paid more, but that means we have to have a growing economy where productivity is rising,” he said.

“That is how you have sustainable long-term increases in people’s pay packets.”

The ONS on Tuesday revealed that regular pay growth, which excludes bonuses, reached a record 7.8 per cent compared with a year earlier for the quarter to June.

The base state pension rate is currently worth £203.85 ($258.44) per week.

An increase in line with 7.8 per cent wage growth would lead to a £15.90 weekly rise.

The triple lock is based on average earnings growth measured from May to July each year, meaning it is likely to be figures published next month that could dictate the state pension rise in spring 2024, as long as it is higher than the inflation figure in September.

Steve Webb, a former pensions minister, said it was likely that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt would need to find £2 billion more for pensions than he had expected in March, with the spring budget anticipating a 6.2 per cent rise.

The former Liberal Democrat MP said the triple lock wage growth measure included bonuses, taking a possible rise beyond 8 per cent.

The ONS reported that wage growth stood at 8.2 per cent in the quarter to June, compared with 12 months previous, when bonus payments were factored in.

In April, the application of the triple lock saw retirees given a 10.1 per cent increase to match inflation.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride in May said that the triple lock pension commitment would remain in place until the next election.

But the cabinet minister said he was not sure whether it would feature in the next Conservative manifesto.

The triple lock was introduced by the Tory-led coalition government in 2010 as a way of ensuring pensioner income did not lose value in real terms by offering state pension increases at least in line with inflation.

It has become seen as an important offer to older voters.

Updated: August 16, 2023, 8:59 PM