logo Member of Parliament for Glasgow East

Westminster isn’t working for pensioners

Published on

Last night, the Tories betrayed pensioners and broke yet another one of their manifesto commitments by scrapping the triple lock on pensions this year.

The triple lock is a guarantee that State Pensions would rise every year by whichever was the larger amount from:

  • Average earnings growth
  • 2.5%
  • The rate of inflation

The Tories have effectively made this guarantee meaningless by removing the commitment to raise pensions by average earnings growth for the year ahead.

The UK already has the lowest state pension - as a proportion of pre-retirement wages - of all of our European neighbours. House of Commons Library research has revealed that UK pensioners receive around a quarter (28%) of the average working wage when they retire. In stark contrast, pensioners in Luxembourg and Austria receive 90% of the average working wage.

The data also shows that pensioners in independent countries of Scotland's size or smaller receive a much higher proportion of the average working wage (64%) than UK pensioners (28%) and more than the average of countries in north west Europe (62%).

I spoke at length in the debate, calling for the triple lock to be protected - something all parties committed to in their manifestos - and outlining why this betrayal yet again underlines why Scotland must retire from the union and become an independent country.

This year, UK pensioner poverty levels rose to a 15 year high - with 2.1million UK pensioners (18%) now living in poverty after housing costs, an increase of 200,000 on 2018/19.

The Tory government has already cut pension credit leaving households up to £7000 a year worse off, increased the state pension age for women born in the 1950s without notice, leaving them unable to plan and facing financial difficulties, broken their manifesto commitment to protect free tv licenses for over 75s, and frozen British state pensions overseas.

A decade of Tory austerity cuts, coupled with one of the worst state pensions in the developed world, means that millions of our older people are already living in poverty. Scrapping the triple lock is another hammer blow for pensioners from the UK government.

With each day that passes it's becoming clearer that the Tory government has absolutely no intention of looking to protect our older people and secure a real recovery from the pandemic.

The data shows that pensioners in independent countries of Scotland's size or smaller receive a much higher proportion of the average working wage. Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts. We need the full powers of independence to protect and boost the incomes of pensioners and secure a strong recovery.


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