Rishi Sunak has hinted he could bend or break his manifesto pledge to raise state pensions using a “triple lock” – after official estimates warned it would hike payments by 8% next year.
A statistical quirk means pensioners are in line for an inflation-busting increase in April 2022 – months after Universal Credit is slashed for 6million other people.
But today the Chancellor said he’ll be storming ahead with the £20-a-week Universal Credit cut – and hinted he could block any 8% rise in pensions too.
Quizzed by BBC Breakfast, he said the triple lock “is the government’s policy” – in the present tense – but added: “I very much recognise people’s concerns.”
Figures on the pension rise will only come later this year, but if they do recommend an 8% hike, Mr Sunak repeatedly refused to rule out changing the rules to prevent it.
“I do recognise people’s concerns on this, I think they are completely legitimate and fair concerns to raise and what I would say is when we look at this properly at the appropriate time,” he said.
“Fairness will be absolutely driving what we do.
“And we want to make sure the decisions we make and the systems we have are fair, both for pensioners and for taxpayers.”
Asked if he was looking for wriggle room and may break the triple lock, he replied: “I don’t know the numbers yet because they haven’t been published, we haven’t got to that point yet. At this point it is speculation.”
This breaking news story is being updated.