General Election 2017: Could this be an earlier than expected end to the state pension triple lock?

 
Oliver Gill
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The Liberal Democrats Hold Their Annual Party Conference
Former pensions minister Steve Webb said a Conservative government will have a way out of its triple lock promise after 8 June (Source: Getty)

The pensions triple lock can be removed three years earlier than expected after Prime Minister Theresa May today called a snap General Election for 8 June.

The Conservatives previously pledged to keep the triple lock on state pension payment increases until the end of the next parliament.

The triple lock increases state pension payments annually by either inflation, average earnings growth or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest. Many assumed the Tory promise would therefore run until 2020 at least, with no further guidance on whether this would be extended beyond such a date.

Read more: Cridland: State pension age to rise earlier and triple-lock should end

But former pensions minister Steve Webb said a by-product of today's announcement is to release the government of its promise. "The triple lock on the state pension must now be up for grabs," he said.

Last week, the Labour Party promised to keep the triple lock in place until 2025.

Webb added: "The Conservatives face a tricky choice, now that Labour has pledged to retain the triple lock.

If the Conservatives were to decide to scrap the triple lock in the weeks before a General Election it would be a sign of supreme confidence about the likely outcome.

Under the Pensions Act 2014, the government is legally bound to deliver a review of the state pension every parliament. The Cridland report, which forms part of the final review has concluded the triple lock should be "withdrawn in the next parliament".

Read more: Triple lock debate: Labour want a commitment beyond 2020

Experts reacted to the delivery of report in March by calling it the "death-knell" of the triple lock. At the time, Webb said it was best to review the policy at the start of each parliament.

However today he added: "With inflation approaching 2.5 per cent, the cost to the Treasury of the triple lock becomes relatively small."

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