How we treat the elderly tells us a lot about the society we live in.
There was widespread condemnation, back in 2000, when pensioners got an insulting 75p rise from the Labour Government. Pensioners felt cheated by a system that didn’t seem to make having a pension worthwhile. 75p was so insulting, it was almost as bad as getting no rise at all.
I remember that even young people in their 20s and 30s were outraged about Labour’s 75p increase, even though it had no direct impact on them. It was just so clearly the wrong thing to do.
When the Liberal Democrats entered Government in 2010, they changed the system. I am really proud that the Liberal Democrats are securing a prosperous and dignified future for Britain’s pensioners.
In our 2010 manifesto, we had a policy called the ‘triple lock guarantee’ which re-established the link between pensions and earnings; a link Margaret Thatcher’s government broke in 1980 and which Labour had refused to restore. The Liberal Democrats demanded that this ‘triple lock’ was part of the Coalition Agreement, and Liberal Democrat pensions minister, Steve Webb, has delivered it in Government.
This means that pensioners in Richmond Park and North Kingston are guaranteed an annual rise by whichever is the higher of earnings growth, prices growth or 2.5%. As a result of our policy, the state pension is now £440 higher per year in 2014-15 than if it had increased merely in line with earnings from the start of this Parliament, benefiting more than 45,000 pensioners across these two Boroughs.
This week, the Liberal Democrats are announcing that we are going further, because this must not just be about protecting our elderly population in this parliament. It should be the standard rule for every parliament in the future. That’s what’s behind the new Liberal Democrat policy announced this week: to write our ‘triple lock’ into law, guaranteeing that pensioners always get this protection in the years ahead.
The Liberal Democrat policy is about doing the right thing by the older generation. This guaranteed ‘triple lock’ will offer dignity and stability to current pensioners, as well as those coming up to retirement. They will be able to better plan their futures knowing that they’ll no longer be faced with the insecurity of unpredictable pension rises.