Pensions: Government has 'difficult decisions' to make says expert

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A Boris Johnson-backing Tory peer has said the party is finished if the pensions triple lock is axed. Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch made the bombshell claim on social media as a Daily Express petition urging the Government to stick to the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto pledge neared 300,000 signatures.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

CMC Markets founder, Lord Cruddas, said on Twitter today: “If Rishi breaks the triple lock it will confirm that the Conservative Party has been taken over by Centre left, remain-backing politicians.

“It will be the end of the Conservative Party as a winning election force. I hope I am wrong.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refused to guarantee the triple lock pledge will remain in place as he looks for ways to fill a blackhole in the public finances, believed to amount to £50billion, ready for the autumn statement on November 17.

In response, the Daily Express and campaign group Silver Voices teamed up to launch a petition urging the PM to give pensioners the increase they were promised by the Conservatives at the last election.

By lunchtime today (November 6), the petition had gained 280,639 and was on course to become one of the top petitions signed on Change.org.

Silver Voices director Dennis Reed said: “We’re extremely pleased about the progress of the petition. It’s far exceeded our expectations. So many people are signing to support their grandparents and older people generally.

“The state pension is too low. It was quite wrong for the Government to go back on its promise before. Even 10 percent is still well below the rate of inflation as far as food is concerned.”

On the Tories electoral prospects, he added: “It’s already bad enough. Older people I know have switched from the Conservatives over TV licences and for suspending the triple lock last year. If the triple lock was to be suspended again, or scrapped, there would be huge electoral consequences for the Conservatives. It would lead to their collapse.”

The Tory manifesto committed to the triple lock, which guarantees the state pension will increase in line with whichever is the highest figure out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5 percent.

READ ABOUT MARTIN LEWIS URGING BRITONS TO OPEN AN HSBC ACCOUNT

State pensions and benefits increased by 3.1 percent this year, after the triple lock was temporarily suspended for a year.

Mr Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have refused to commit to the triple lock on pensions, meaning millions could face real-terms cuts in April, as inflation soars past 10 percent.

This week saw Conservative MP Scott Benton warn it would be “inconceivable” for the party to abandon its pledge to retain the triple lock.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, who last month said it made sense for benefits to match inflation, thanked Mr Benton for his efforts in highlighting the importance of the triple lock.

Mr Benton, the MP for Blackpool South, told the Commons: “Over the last few months, I have been inundated with correspondence from constituents regarding retaining the triple lock.

“It would be inconceivable to abandon our manifesto pledge on this issue, not least because senior citizens – unlike people of working age – have no means to increase their income to support themselves with the cost of living.

“I appreciate the Government will outline a way forward… but can we have a debate in Government time about how we can best support older people with the cost-of-living?”

The Bank of England warned on Thursday the country faces its longest recession in a century as it hiked base rates by 0.75 percentage points to three percent – the highest level in 15 years

With many families facing crippling rises in their monthly mortgage bills, Mr Sunak told The Times he understood their concerns as they worried how to make ends meet.

Mr Sunak said: “I think inflation is the number one enemy, as Margaret Thatcher rightly said. Inflation has the biggest impact on those with the lowest incomes. I want to get a grip of inflation.”

THe PM said it was important the Government was honest with voters about the “trade-offs” the country faces in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement.

He said: “Everyone appreciates that the Government cannot do everything. How does government do everything? It just does it by borrowing money which ultimately leads to, as we saw, high inflation, a loss of credibility, spiking interest rates.”

It is understood among the measures Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt are considering to address the deficit are a further two-year freeze on the lifetime pension allowance and the imposition for the first time of VAT on electric vehicles.

Major infrastructure projects, including a major high-speed rail line in northern England, are being reviewed ahead of November 17.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted Northern Powerhouse Rail linking Liverpool and Hull could be scaled back from a grander vision for the project committed to by former Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Downing Street has also been forced to deny it would scrap a commitment to build a new nuclear plant in Suffolk as part of efforts to find savings

Downing Street said it remains “committed” to the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), which contains a less extensive vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail than that committed to by Ms Truss.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman firmly denied Sizewell C was being reviewed after a Government official told the BBC: “We are reviewing every major project – including Sizewell C.”

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