Ros Altmann challenges Govt on state pension triple lock

Ros Altmann

Former pensions minister Ros Altmann has criticised the Government for avoiding difficult decisions on the sustainability of the state pension triple lock.

The Government has committed to increasing state pensions each year by either inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest.

Altmann says keeping the triple lock beyond the agreed 2020 date does not make sense given the costs involved. She is arguing for a “double lock” instead, that is, maintaining increases to the state pension based on earnings or inflation but losing the 2.5 per cent benchmark.

She says: “I believe the triple lock has fulfilled its purpose and suggested, as pensions minister, that the next Parliament needs to secure those gains, but a triple lock is not necessary for that any more.

“In fact, in some ways, having the triple lock has been used as an easy symbol for politicians to point at to claim they are looking after pensioners. This can sometimes mean they do not believe they need to engage in more serious and in-depth policymaking for the ageing population.

“Such totemic symbols may be politically convenient, but are not a sound substitute for carefully considered policy reform.”

Altmann adds the triple lock poses “long-term dangers” that risks “outlasting its purpose because politicians fear taking difficult decisions”.

A Number 10 spokeswoman told The Observer: “The manifesto contains a commitment to protect the triple lock. That commitment still stands.”

However the Department of Work and Pensions has refused to rule out a review of the policy.