Pensions triple lock could be means tested as rich OAPs 'don't need it', senior Tory says

Senior Tory backbencher Andrea Leadsom. (PA)
Senior Tory backbencher Andrea Leadsom. (PA)

The triple lock on pensions could become means-tested because many richer OAPs "don't need it", a senior Tory has suggested.

The government is currently trying to find a way to plug a hole in the nation's finances and many have pointed to the triple lock as an area where money could be saved.

The triple lock guarantees the state pension will rise by whichever is higher: 2.5%, average wage growth or inflation.

It has been criticised for giving more money to wealthy pensioners while the rest of society has seen their wages only grow slightly for the past decade.

According to the Office for National Statistics, almost three-quarters of over-65s own their homes outright and nearly 70% have a private pension.

Speaking to Times Radio, senior Tory backbencher Andrea Leadsom said the government should consider changing the way the triple lock worked to make it more means-tested.

She said: "For people who are on a fixed pension and are relying on a state pension they are not well off, many are struggling and particularly with food prices and energy prices where they are, even with government support they are really really struggling.

Read more: PM could curb pension tax relief to help plug budget black hole, says senior economist

The triple lock has been criticised as helping many wealthy pensioners who don't need it. (PA)
The triple lock has been criticised as helping many wealthy pensioners who don't need it. (PA)

"There are many wealthy pensioners who own their own homes who have got private pensions etc who don't need that triple lock, so in my view, it may be the time now to start looking at some form of means testing."

Last year, the government suspended the triple lock after wages grew by 8% due to the impact of furlough and other policies that supported the economy through the pandemic.

The government promised the suspension would only be temporary and that it would return for the next financial year.

In the interview, Leadsom pointed to this previous promise as a reason why it would be very politically difficult for chancellor Jeremy Hunt and prime minister Rishi Sunak to back away from it now.

Read more: Cost of living crisis: One in four young people forced to borrow money to buy food

Many poor pensioners are already struggling with the cost of living. (PA)
Many poor pensioners are already struggling with the cost of living. (PA)

Read more: How France is keeping inflation much lower than the UK

The Tories also committed to keeping the triple lock in the 2019 election manifesto.

Both Sunak and Hunt have refused to commit to maintaining the triple lock in their upcoming fiscal statement on 17 November.

Many campaign groups have warned against getting rid of the triple lock saying pensioners who rely on it wholly for their income are already facing many hardships.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said many pensioners are already cutting back on spending due to the cost of living crisis.

They are even going as far as to cancel their care, which Abrahams argued would have a knock-on effect on the NHS.

She said: "That’s why the government must restore the triple lock and raise both benefits and social care funding in line with inflation."

When Number 10 was been pressed on whether the government will keep the triple lock the PM's press secretary said: "He will do what’s right and compassionate for the most vulnerable."