But deputy speaker stops Lord Sikka’s” full restitution” amendment going to a vote
The government were roundly defeated in the Lords – by 220 votes to 178 – yesterday over its plans to abolish the triple lock for next year’s pension rise – reducing the up rating for pensioners from 8.1 per cent to 3.1 per cent.
The loss of cash for pensioners in the next five years is enormous. They lose a share of £5.4 billon next year, £5.78 billion in 2023-24, £6.1 billion in 2024-25, £6.5 billion in 2025-26 and £6.7 billion in 2026-27. That amounts as Lord Sikka told peers to £30.5 billion removed from pensioners’ pockets over the next five years.
What happened yesterday in the Lords were two separate approaches to challenging the government’s decision to end for next year the link between pensions and earnings.
The first which was successful was put forward by Baroness Ros Altmann, a former Tory pensions minister, in a series of amendments. She had the support of Labour’s Baroness Sherlock, a former special adviser to Gordon Brown and an ordained priest at Durham Cathedral; Baroness Janke, a Liberal Democrat peer and former leader of Bristol council; and Baroness Boycott, a crossbench peer, feminist and former editor of the Independent newspaper.
It was one of these amendments that led to the defeat of the government in the Lords. This particular amendment had the support of former Labour Cabinet minister, Baron Hain, Liberal Democrat baroness Janke and crossbencher (and ex Conservative) Baroness Wheatcroft former editor of the Sunday Telegraph.
Basically the amendment challenged the government’s calculation of the rise in earnings at 8.1 or 8.3 per cent and wanted a new calculation stripping out the effect of the pandemic. Lady Altmann initially had put this at 3.8 per cent but yesterday suggested it could be as high as five per cent and then suggested she was had no firm figure. This particular approach had the support of Labour.
The official wording maintained the link with “earnings obtaining in Great Britain, as adjusted to take account of the exceptional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the level of earnings”.
She told peers: ” after seeing alcohol and fuel duty cut in the Budget and the bank surcharge allowance raised, and adding up the amount of Exchequer savings that those measures entail, half the cost of not honouring the triple lock will cover the costs of just those three measures. I appeal to noble Lords across the House: is this really the country that we believe that we should be living in? Is that the priority for public spending?”
The key point about this amendment is that it does not restore the full 8.1 per cent to pensioners and it leaves the government to decide – if it wants to – the new earnings rate.
Baroness Stedman Scott, the DWP Lords minister, did not sound convinced. Referring to a blog on the Office for National Statistics site she said “Using a range of possible estimates based on a method that cannot be agreed on does not provide a sufficiently robust basis for making critical decisions about billions of pounds-worth of expenditure.”
The second more radical approach came from Prem Sikka, Lord Sikka. He was backed by Baroness Bennett, Natalie Bennett the former Green leader; Baron Davies of Brixton – Bryn Davies- a former Labour union leader; Baroness Blower, Labour and former general secretary of the National Union of Teachers and Lord Hendy, Labour, a barrister and labour law expert. Lord Sikka told them the government’s measure “is also contrary to the Government’s levelling-up agenda. Rather than levelling up, it impoverishes citizens and condemns millions of current and future retirees to a life of poverty and misery. There is no moral or economic rationale for this; indeed, none has been offered by any Minister so far.
“The Government’s own statistics, published on 3 September 2021, say that the average weekly pre-2016 state pension is £169.21 for males, £141.98 for females, and the overall mean is £155.08. The average weekly post-2016 pension is £166.34 for males, £160.11 for females, and the overall average is £164.23. As we can see from these figures, women are especially impoverished by the way that pensions are calculated and paid. They will be hit even harder by the abandonment or, as the Minister might say, the temporary suspension of the triple lock.”
….”Low pensions condemn our citizens to a life of misery. Some 1.3 million retirees are affected by malnutrition or undernutrition. Around 25,000 older people die each year due to cold weather, and we will no doubt hear the grim statistics for this year, possibly on 26 November when the next numbers are out. Despite the triple lock, the proportion of elderly people living in severe poverty in the UK is five times what it was in 1986, which is the largest increase among major western countries. Some 2.1 million pensioners live in poverty, and the poverty rate has actually increased since 2012-13.”
Then extraordinarily Baroness Fookes, a Tory peer who was a deputy speaker, blocked a vote on Lord Sikka’s amendment leading Lord Sikka to say he was cheated. She argued that his opponents had made more noise than his supporters to justify the decision.
If this amendment had been passed it would have allowed pensioners to get the full uprating of 8.1 per cent but would have wrecked the bill. Labour did not support this and would have abstained. A spokesman for the Labour Whip’s office explained:”Prem’s amendment was not in line with the Lords’ constitutional position, in that it would wreck the core purpose of a bill that the Commons had already voted to support.
There was all party support however for a full impact study into pensioner poverty after peers from all sides had expressed concern about the plight of pensioners this winter and the DWP minister promised this when faced with possibility of yet another Lords revolt.. There was also a promise from the minister for a detailed explanation of the national insurance fund – which appears to have a £37 billion surplus which the government says cannot be used to pay for keeping the triple lock.
What is clear is that Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has been silent about this surplus in all the documents he produced to accompany the Budget. If it turns out that it has been used secretly to repay government debt I suspect there will be an all mighty row as 12 million pensioners will feel they have been cheated yet again by successive governments. Watch this space for more developments.
Read here who supported revising the triple lock and those who were against pensioners getting a penny more. Those in favour included 3 Tories, 99 Labour, 41 cross benchers,64 Liberal Democrats,13 non affiliated, including one Green Party and 2 Democratic Unionist Party.
Those against included 165 Tories, 11 crossbenchers and 2 non affiliated peers. Hereditary peers also voted against. You can see all their names on the link.
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Once again pensions are being used to pay off other Government. No levelling off for pensioners – just poverty, ill health and neglect by a country that they thought was fighting wars for. Todays 30 year olds wont be as patriotic because they have seen grannies, grandads etc robbed of their pensions by a Government that is bleeding the country to death to fill its own pockets.
I am happy the Lords voted for and defeated the gov with this bill. but the gov could still vote it out and its no surprise that most of the tory toffs voted against it l for one won’t be voting for them in the next general election have they forgot about the ballot box? but wait they won’t need to rely on the state pension with the wads they pocket. its not right or fair that pensioners are having their pensions cut and having to wait 6 years longer before you can even claim one.when the government can find funding for everthing else. billion after billion after billion… they have spent since the pandemic began there is no justification for suspending the triple lock pensioners got no help not all are claiming benefits UC pip etc. to have the triple lock removed even if it is for one year only which I doubt! Is total robbery and as for levelling up don’t get me started on that one….
but the toffs haven’t a clue what it is…
Amazing there’s a big reaction about the triple lock! I agree it should be given but I wish more was mentioned about the plight of the 50’s womens’ pensions who receive NOTHING for an extra 6year wait!!!! Total silence on tv channels. Disgusting behaviour.
This Government is an absolute disgrace and when are voters going to wake up and smell the coffee? We Pensioners have been robbed blind, but after this afternoons vote they have nobody to answer to, unless you count a panel made up from, oh yes Conservative MPs. It is, as I said an absolute disgrace, if the Government fight the Lords decision we have no chance. ;[ They can’t manage on their pay, so are allowed to earn cash from favours and dodgy contracts and now can’t be questioned about it. Don’t even get me started on the PM going to the Climate Summit, but getting there and back in Private Planes, hypocrisy on so many levels. I really hope last nights ruling gets us somewhere and that the Ombudsman gets a jig on with the decision on the next stage of Maladministration, but to be honest I am losing faith, a corrupt Government with a majority of 80 what chance have we got?
I absolutely agree with you Naylor1954. I am a also hoping that the Government does not fight the Lords decision, but I think they will. I also believe that what this country is experiencing is the result of a Government that has such a huge majority that they feel they are ‘untouchable’ and can ride roughshod unchallenged through the lives of the people. The only thing I am hoping for is another election ASAP so that there is a chance to get rid of the Tories and hopefully get the country back on a more even keel. But the Labour party has got to get it’s act together and become a credible opposition. As for the Ombudsman and receiving a decision on the matter of Maladministration, I have little faith in that process. I’m a 50’s Woman who was cheated out of her pension and I have lost faith in ever receiving justice in that regard. All governments regardless of whether it’s Labour/Tory or Coalition seem quite comfortable with treating older people and Pensioners as cannon fodder and easy targets.
Maybe David could put in FOI request and see if the NI fund has been ‘dipped into’ again.
Boris Johnson was asked in Parliament only yesterday about the plight of the 50’s Women (by a SNP MP) and Johnsons reply was to say that giving us our pension was that it would be too expensive. But the last I heard the NI fund was back in the black again after being in the red for years.
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Thankyou june 7359,I thought it was only me. Approaching 61 now,66yrs & 9 mths my age to get Pension.Sudden loss of business partner & becoming disabked at 55 added to my plight. Had to sell up to exist..Triple Locker’s I’m sorry you miss out, but try living on per week..
Christine I for one am not forgetting the plight of the 50s women, I was born in July 1954 and waited an extra 5 years and 11 months for my pension with no letter at all. I am also disabled and lost my Husband just after his 60th Birthday, so he never lived long enough to get his pension, after working all his life. I like many have waited almost the extra 6 years but we have now also had the triple lock snatched away from us, I have been a member of Waspi & Back to 60 from the beginning and have been very vocal about the Pension age increase. The reason the Triple Lock is being discussed now is because the vote only happened the other day, it doesn’t mean any one of us has given up our fight for compensation. This Government cannot be allowed to go on, robbing the poor to pay the rich.
The government have used every tactic to take money from pensioners: raiding the NI pot, stealing pensions from 50s women, discriminating between men and women, the great SERPS con (although that was also used to deprive my father of monies due) and now removing the triple lock which was the attempt to ‘level up’ starving and unheated pensioners, Why don’t they just come clean and not only legalise assisted suicide but also introduce euthanisia when, despite contributing for over 40 years we are no longer able to provide them with sufficient income – it seems that’s what they really want and, given the life into which those who planned and contributed to their pensions for decades have been forced into, many may just wish to go. If they change the rules, they must be applied to the government and their cronies when they have been worked to the bone! Faced with the penury they have subjected decent hardworking people to, knowing the same will be done to them, might just focus their minds. But, of course that will never happen in the one rule for them, another for us regime under which we now live.
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