Calls for state pension triple lock to be scrapped to pay for coronavirus

14 April 2020

Experts call for the abolition of the pensions triple lock to cover the cost of tackling covid-19


Retired workers should no longer have their state pensions protected by the triple lock guarantee to help fund the coronavirus crisis, according to plans from the Social Market Foundation (SMF).

The Government bill to tackle the epidemic must be shared fairly between retirees and those of working age, new analysis from the think tank says.

Government debt will rise after the pandemic, which will force ministers to reform and reduce state spending.

In a new briefing paper, the SMF says any future austerity programme must not favour pension benefits over working-age welfare, as happened after the financial crisis.

What is the pensions triple lock?

The triple lock is a legal guarantee that the basic state pension will rise in line with the highest of average earnings growth, inflation or 2.5%.

It was introduced in 2011 to help ensure that typical pensioner household incomes rose regardless of their economic circumstances.

Should the triple lock be scrapped?

The effectiveness of the triple lock guarantee has been mooted since it was first announced. 

Some experts have criticised it for creating intergenerational inequality between working-age households, who have seen little wage growth over the last decade, and those who are retired.

Replacing the triple lock with a 'double lock' that removed the 2.5% element could save £20 billion over the next five years, the SMF estimates. These savings could help meet the escalating costs arising from the lockdown.

Scott Corfe, research director at the SMF, says: “Quite rightly, society is making sacrifices to protect its elderly right now. There is a clear case for intergenerational reciprocation when it comes to meeting the fiscal costs of the crisis in the years ahead.

“The crisis has emphasised our obligations to other generations, even in the face of personal sacrifice.  This spirit must be maintained when the dust settles, with the economic costs of responding to the crisis shared fairly across the generations.”

Keeping the triple lock in place may also pressure the government to increase the state pension age higher than its current forecasts.

Ian Browne, pensions expert at Quilter says: “If there is no departure from the triple lock it will only place increasing pressure on this government to address the state pension age.

“Increasing the state pension age to much later in life is the alternative means of reducing the future cost of retirement benefits, but would have greater harm on future generations.”

But charities warn that scrapping the triple lock could make hundreds of thousands of pensioners worse off.

Age UK estimates that 700,000 more pensioners could fall into poverty by 2050 if the government gets rid of the triple lock.




"Some experts have criticised it for creating intergenerational inequality between working-age households,..."

Would those be the same, or different, experts that lauded it for sorting out the intergenerational inequality between retired and working-age back in the time?


Pensioners as well as working population should get the same benefits over the lifetime of a parliament.

This may mean some years their are diff benefits but not over a 5 year period. Keeping a guarantee for pensions must be done, but like all benefits (triple lock) there needs to be a review from time to time

pension triple lock.

This is a very bad idea by (smf) have these people got any idea about paying for council tax as a pensioner.

Triple lock

Scrapping the triple lock on state pensions is in my opinion would be a very bad move. Even with this guarantee this annual increase just say covers the increase on basic cost of living rises.


So, the elderly/penssioners bear the brunt of deaths from corona virus, and now they should pay for it too!

In reply to by Portland Bill (not verified)

The elderly/pensioners

My thoughts precisely. They are paying the ultimate price.

In reply to by Portland Bill (not verified)

undoing the triple lock

Precisely what I was thinking. But taxes are paid on all income so raising it contributes to the economy.

pension triple lock

the uk pension is lower than all but one comparable country's pension.
The triple lock helps to address this a little.
Savings could be made elsewhere in our system, the £60,000 pay raise for judges is one example, also the £10,000 for each MP for working from home could be looked at to help offset the money lost by the shutdown of our economy. Do not always rush to cut the very low pension paid to our retired workers.

Pension Tripple lock

If you get rid of the triple lock pay the pensioners a minimum wage same as the £8 per hour who can live on the £9,100. As for the teachers police etc to pay more, why do they have a gold plated pensions at the expense of other people.

Triple lock pension scrap

I bet those people in the SMF are not on a small pension. If anyone should pay for this virus crisis, it is the UK banks - we, the taxpayer bailed them out in 2008!!!

Pensions, Coronavirus

We already enjoy the worst rates of state pension across most of the developed world, Coronavirus could have been paid for from a sovereign wealth fund from North Sea oil and gas, but that was sold off cheaply to foreign investors, a loss of approximately 400 billion pounds to the treasury, incompetent buffoons!

State pension

I worked from 15 year old never claimed anything from the state you have no right to stop the triple lock you try and live on the lowist pension in europe and one of the riches contries in the world

Triple Lock pension suggestion

SO...the very first serious money-saving suggestion to claw back the Corona costs -- is to end the triple-lock pension protection! Disgraceful The triple-lock was introduced to bring some parity to pensions which were falling seriously behind other EU pension levels at a time when wages were rising. And the reason stated here? "..because working people have made sacrifices during Corona to protect the elderly." REALLY??? -- the infirm-elderly are neglected in under-funded Care Homes while the active elderly are shut away behind closed doors, told they "can't come out" whatever their state of mental and physical fitness, and however much their families depend on their child care and business depends on their spending and charities depend on their voluntary efforts. If older people want to feel safe by staying indoors 100% they can. Those who are fit and active should now have an Exit Strategy along with everyone else to get back to society and to the healthy activities which keep them sane and help to stay free from virus. Meanwhile have more tact than to put up THIS "money saver" as the first bright idea.

Triple lock pensions

To the think tank how about you stumping up Lythe money for the coroavirus.
We have paid for our pensions and it's the lowest in europe .

Tripple Lock

The Conservative Government is always looking to the Less Well Off to solve the countries Financial Problems. They never seem to look to the Super-Rich and Rich. Our Generation has suffered enough during the Thatcher years, the Stock Market collapse episode, increase in State Pension age, and more recently with the Austerity Measures. I believe our Generation has PAID enough!! Is screwing the less well off the best this country's Private School Polititians can do?? If so, so much for a good education?? The People make the Country Not the economy.

Basic State Pension is currently £134.25 not as stated above!

If they do get rid of the triple lock then those people with total income from pension less that £25,000 will no doubt suffer. Some have even less than that. The problem is as things stand now, the rise every year just covers for the increase in our rent increase so we are static! We do not therefore ever get any positive increase we just carry on as usual. You can't keep punishing the elderly because of a bad system of looking after our young folk who we all support in any way we can.

triple lock pensions

If the corona virus is targeting older people, the government or anyone else wont need to worry about how much is being paying out in state pensions anyway.

The suggestion that the triple lock be scrapped

The suggestion by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) that the triple lock should be scrapped. As a way of demonstrating an inter generational response to the crisis shared fairly across the generations is short sighted and does not take any consideration as to those who would be impacted.
In short those on or approaching retirement have contributed to society and the UK economy already.
In a financial perspective, those retired or about to retire have seen the complete loss of interest rates for their cash over the last twenty years.
Forced to move into share markets as a response, they have been subsequently hit by the recession and then austerity.
Then by the changes to ladies pensions (WASPI)..
In the past it was the pensioner that helped their families finances when they were in difficulty with their pension pots. This was at a time when every institution failed them..
The care homes that look after the elder or those in need of care delivery have been stripped of funding by the governments of the past.
The Coronavirus hits hardest those with underlying health problems and age.
The NHS is looking at making decisions in regard to those who should be attended to as priority. This is biased against the older generations who will take up most of the attention with the smaller chance of recovery.
The older generations worked to a support the economy, defending the country when required and paying into society and the expectation that they would receive something at the end of their working life.
Finally the SMF does not take into account how many would be placed into a financial difficulty and need for support as a consequence of this proposal proposal.

Pension triple Lock

People are fooled by finance, since leaving the gold standard money strength is based on faith in the government therefore strong governments can print money, hence quantitative easing which is another name for printing money. If every country prints money there is no financial crisis. as exchange rates stay the same.

intergenerational inequality of the triple lock

intergenerational inequality as used in this article suggests working people are not going to get older and will therefore not benefit from the triple lock. What rubbish! It would however be accurate if applied to reducing and/or deferring the future pensions of working people, but this of course spoils the austerity promotion.


Why not scrap it like the over 75s tv licence and while you are at it scrap the whole pension let them look after themselves shove them all in care homes lets get rid of them all shall we.Lets give all the money that we save to the young fit people and sod the old biddies you people me me want to VOMIT its i know lets do this to the old people lets get rid but people forget without those old people 60% to 70% would not be on this earth.BUNCH OF morons.

Pension Triple - Lock.

I worked and paid `full stamp rate` all my working life. I am now 92 and my weekly pension is £137 per week ie my basic pension, plus my graduated pension, and plus my late husband`s graduated pension,
So perish the thought of living high. I am lucky as I have private income to supplement my pension


The royal family has been looked by the governments of this country for generations it’s about time queen used her wealth to help the country in this difficult times

Triple lock

“ Increasing the state pension age to much later in life is the alternative means of reducing the future cost of retirement benefits, but would have greater harm on future generations.”

Well, actually no! The contributions to the Treasury by taxing those companies, largely US-owned, who currently evade taxation through discovering creative loopholes, would easily exceed the savings from removing the triple lock. The quango needs to dispose of the myopic half-wits looking to fleece the low-income elderly by removing the triple lock. There was a reason that it was introduced: that reason applies even more with the continued Quantitative Easing agenda adversely affecting the interest from savings held by pensioners.

Triple Lock

We already have 2 state pension systems in operation. The Original one and the newer one introduced in the last couple of years with a higher standard amount.
It would be best if the triple lock is retained for those on the original system or for those receiving less than the pension credit standard amount.
A double lock could system without the 2.5% minimum could be applied to those above that amount.
If triple lock is applied to all then there is no chance of those with small state pensions ever catching up or getting closer to those on the new sysytem.

Calls for state pension triple lock to be scrapped

It seems quite extraordinary, at this point in time, to start any debate on who will pay for coronavirus with the suggestion that it comes from people living on £8k a year.

Pension triple lock

As a pensioner it would be unfair and unreasonable to ask government to stop the pension triple lock provision. Most pensioners do not have other income to rely on and are often not able to work to provide additional income. In these circumstances, they would be unable to keep up with increasing costs such as food, heating, health and transport etc. I beg the government to review the situation with a view to keeping this facility for pensioners.

Triple Lock

I’m a pensioner, and I benefit from the triple lock. I believe in ensuring pensioners have adequate income to maintain an average standard of living. But I agree with this article by Brean Horne (14 April) recommending the abolition of the triple lock, as it gives pensioners a better rise than that enjoyed by many working people. I lived for the last 10 years of my civil service career on eithe 0%b or 1% pay rise, yet now as a non-worker I find myself getting nearly 4%, last year it was 3% - the highest pay rises I’ve ever had. I think I should be treated as those working , and receive for example an average of national increases.

Triple lock and state pensioners

As the coronavirus has reduced the number of pensioners drastically and still is reducing as indicated by the numbers dying in care homes, given that most deaths recorded are from the elderly residents of the UK, this will reduce the amount of state pension being claimed for by these deceased pensioners in the foreseeable future. The saving by the cessation of paying out these pensions no longer required should be set against the cost of the huge debt the government has incurred in the increased claims for universsl credit and supporting big public companies. This is short term in comparison to removing the triple lock of state pensions increases which will be in finitum putting our pensioners into extreme poverty.
This is totally unfair.
I rent my spare bedrooms out to make ends meet, pay my increasing utility bills and in general am able to shop without having to worry about where my next meal is coming from and live a normal life. I should not have to endure strangers sharing my home but do not qualify for any of the additional credits for pensioners because i own my own home and have a small company pension. The reason i have a small company pension is another story and not relevant to the issue of removing the triple lock. But there was no such thing as the benefit system when i was a young mother providing for my children, you either worked, or starved and lost the roof over your head.

Triple lock

As we all know the basic weekly state pension is equal to no more than 1 or 2 days work but pensioners are still required to purchase items at full price so any reduction in pension hits many very hard and will make them reliant on other forms of government benefit.

triple lock pension

At the rate pensioner are dying, the government will save a fortune. A ban on perks for the MPs would save plenty. Free bar, no tax paid, £10,000 to set up home office on top of a good salary paid by taxpayers.

MP’s £10,000

Could they not use their constituency offices which are supported instead of “working from home” seems like a double expenditure to me?

Scrapping Triple Lock

Sounds about right for this government make the poorest people pay for the privilege of having the good fortune to survive this horrific experience.
Why raise taxes for the bankers, hedge fund managers, CEO of large businesses?
Why not realign NI such that employers pay whether they employ staff or use "self employed" contractors, stopping this loophole will improve finances and ultimately lives of millions.

SMF 'Experts' call to drop the pensions triple lock

I am heartily sick and tired of so-called 'experts' making repeated ageist 'pops' about removing the pensions triple lock. It should be remembered that the UK's state pension provision has for many years been one the meanest in western Europe and the triple lock is only a relatively recent mitigation measure.
To say that pensioners should 'pay back' the younger generation in return for the 'sacrifices' they are making completely ignores the sacrifices the the older generation made in their time whilst also paying taxes and NI in the expectation of receiving a state pension at the end of it all.
It just seems to me that the SMF needs to wake up, smell the coffee and come up with positive suggestions for helping matters rather than choosing soft targets for their politics of envy.
BTW - I am not a pensioner!

Scrapping the Triple lock

Surely the govt will save millions anyway because the majority of deaths are in people of pensionable age, so is it really necessary to scrap the triple lock.
I'm sure those of us who receive private pensions as well would be happy to pay a little more Income tax. Also there are millions of people who would be happy to pay a little more tax than pay ridiculous site management fees.

You can tell it's the Tories…

You can tell it's the Tories and their rich voters and donors calling for this not those affected by the triple lock who it protects. They already have one of the lowest pensions in the richest countries of the world and they want to take away that limited protection - wow. Shame on you if you want this to happen

triple lock

Sure majority pensioners would not mind to pay if the rich succkers stop being greedy & take advantage of their position in the society. They should remember, we voted for them. Also we bailed creepling sectors such as banks. The fact is that you were born with nothing & will exit the world with nothing. So think about people who are suffering, have no food for their next meal & no roof over their head.

Scapping the Triple Lock

This is a disgusting suggestion, the SMF should be ashamed for even suggesting the idea. There are a lot of other alternative areas and groups they could look at before they pick on the defenceless pensioners of this country.

Triple locked pension.

Scrapping this "Think Tub" will go a small step to alleviating economic stress post Corona virus. By the time I write this we will be hitting about 20,000 prematurely dead older people in hospitals alone this doesn't count those dying in care homes and at home. So the bill isn't going to be so big is it? I'm not sure what sacrifices younger people have made for older people during this C19 pandemic. Will someone mention one please. These pensioners have of course paid for their pensions whereas these younger people have yet to do so - or am I wrong.

Paying for tiple lock

Is it about time that the total number of members in the House of Lords and the number of MP's in parliament was reviewed and reduced.
Savings from daily expenses and benefits would probably go a long way to filling the coffers back up and support the Triple lock.

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