Sunak’s new ‘triple lock plus’ pension pledge as Tories try to win back older voters

The Tories are to unveil a new deal for pensioners to boost their incomes with a “triple lock plus” pledge.

With the Conservatives more than 20 points behind Labour in the polls, Rishi Sunak has reached for the playbook of one of his predecessors, David Cameron, in making an offer to the Conservatives’ traditional so-called “grey vote” base.

The prime minister will offer to protect the triple lock on the state pension brought in by Lord Cameron in 2010 which means that it is guaranteed to go up by the highest rate of inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is the largest increase.

The PM will also announce on Tuesday that from April next year the income tax personal allowance for pensioners will be increased in line with the triple lock.

The pledge would mean both the state pension and pensioners’ tax-free allowance will always rise in line with the highest of earnings, wages or 2.5 per cent.

This comes because the reduction in national insurance contributions (NICs) from 12 per cent to 8 per cent does not affect pensioners who do not pay that tax.

‘We are on the side of pensioners’, says the PM (PA Wire)
‘We are on the side of pensioners’, says the PM (PA Wire)

The new allowance is a tax cut of around £100 for around 8 million pensioners next year, which will only grow over time – expected to be almost £300 a year by the end of the next parliament.

The policy will cost £2.4bn a year by 2029-30 and be funded through the Conservatives’ previously announced plan to raise an extra £6bn a year by the end of the next parliament by clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion.

The move comes as party campaign chiefs have been alarmed in the collapse in support for the Tories among older voters even though the state pension has risen in line with the highest rate of inflation.

According to last week’s Techne UK survey, Labour’s lead among pensioners was 35 per cent. Without winning back the older vote, the Tories have no hope of a comeback.

Mr Sunak was once asked during an appearance on Loose Women why he “hates pensioners” revealing that he was vulnerable to attacks in this area.

But announcing his new pensioner friendly policy, Mr Sunak said: “This bold action demonstrates we are on the side of pensioners. The alternative is Labour dragging everyone in receipt of the full state pension into income tax for the first time in history.”

Pensions secretary Mel Stride added: “A Conservative government is the only one which can provide pensioners the peace of mind in retirement they deserve.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, said: “Why would anyone believe the Tories and Rishi Sunak on tax after they left the country with the highest tax burden in 70 years?

“This is just another desperate move from a chaotic Tory party torching any remaining facade of its claims to economic credibility.

“Not only have they promised to spend tens of billions of pounds since this campaign began, they also have a completely unfunded £46bn policy to scrap national insurance that threatens the very basis of the state pension.

“Labour will protect the triple lock. But Rishi Sunak is planning to reward Britain’s pensioners for their loyalty by stabbing them in the back, just like he did to Boris Johnson and just like he has done to his own MPs.”