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‘They should hang their heads in shame’: Dundee pensioners call removal of triple lock on pensions a ‘total betrayal’

Dorothy McHugh, Dundee Pensioners' Forum

Campaigning Dundee pensioners say removing the triple lock on pensions is a “total betrayal” and claim the UK Government should “hang their heads in shame”.

UK Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey earlier announced the triple lock on state pensions will be temporarily suspended next year.

This is despite the Conservatives promising to keep the safeguard in their 2019 election manifesto.

Dorothy McHugh, 72, from Dundee Pensioners’ Forum, says she is dreading winter and says many older people will be forced to decide whether to heat or eat as the temperatures drop.

What is the triple lock on pensions?

The triple lock on state pensions was introduced by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government in 2010 and ensures pensions increase each year.

The annual increase is decided by one of three things, whichever is highest: inflation, average wage increases or 2.5%.

In the 2019 general election campaign the Conservatives promised to keep this triple lock for the duration of their parliamentary term.

However, during the pandemic a lot of people were earning less than they usually would because they were on the furlough wage retention scheme.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey

As people come of furlough and return to full pay, this has been recorded as an 8% rise in average earnings from May to July 2021.

Under the rules of the triple lock, this would mean state pensions would also need to rise by a similar amount.

However, the government decided it will remove the option of increasing state pensions by average wage increases next year – all to avoid raising state pensions by 8%.

It is expected this will come into place in April 2022.

‘They should hang their heads in shame’

Dorothy McHugh, who worked for 49 years in the private sector, says everyone at Dundee Pensioners’ Forum is “absolutely disgusted” at the decision.

She said: “This was a pledge when the current government was looking for our votes at the last election.”

Dorothy McHugh

She added: “They have reneged on this even though everyone will be a pensioner one day.

“It is a total betrayal.

“They are attacking the poorest in society by taking £20 back from Universal Credit and by not fulfilling their promise to pensioners.

“We have paid in all our working lives to secure a pension in old age, and now we need it paid out.

“To say it is all to do with Covid is a lot of nonsense.

“They should hang their heads in shame.”

Winter worries for pensioners

Ms McHugh says she is now dreading the coming winter, particularly as energy bills are set to rise after the price of wholesale gas increased by 250% since the beginning of the year.

Dorothy McHugh

She added: “Pensioner poverty is rising so we can’t believe it.

“It is just more misery with winter coming along and fuel prices going up.

“People talk about heat or eat but it is real, it happens.

“Go to an older person’s house and they will be huddled up over a wee fire and wrapped up in layers because they can’t afford to put the heating on.

Go to an older person’s house and they will be huddled up over a wee fire and wrapped up in layers because they can’t afford to put the heating on.

– Dorothy McHugh

“We are more vulnerable to the cold because of our age and this is an attack on the most vulnerable in society.

“I struggle – I don’t qualify for pension credits.

“I am dreading this winter.

“If it was not for my daughter helping me out in the winter I would be in that dilemma of heat or eat.

“It is shocking and shameful.”

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “We have carefully considered the fairest approach for both pensioners and younger taxpayers – this legislation strikes that balance while also ensuring pensioner incomes still receive a significant boost.

“This new legislation is a one-year response to exceptional circumstances and we plan to return the earnings element of the triple lock next year.”

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