My election notes. E-Day -47

by Pseud O'Nym

The last couple of days have required some deft footwork from Phillip Hammond, the man who puts chance into Chancellor. In refusing to rule out an income tax increase and increase in VAT yesterday, he was probably remembering the humiliating climb-down over plans in his budget to increase National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed. Unfortunately, the last Conservative manifesto explicitly stated that they wouldn’t. Hence the climb-down and his reluctance to make any pledge that might bedevil him later.

If only Teresa May had been as cautious and had been paying attention to Parliamentary debates and what her Ministers say. When asked about her commitment to protecting the triple lock – introduced in 2010 and which guarantees that the state pension will rise by the rate of average earnings OR the Consumer Price Index OR 2,5% whichever is the highest- she said yesterday:

 All I would say to pensioners is just look at what the Conservatives in government have done.

However she stopped short of any pledge that she could be held to, which is an electoral gamble because pensioners are the demographic most likely to vote but against that but pensions amount to a whopping £92 billion of the welfare budget. And the population is ageing, meaning not only are there more pensioners, but those that there are are living longer.

But on Thursday, – the day before she invited pensioners to examine the governments record – in a debate about pensions, the issue of annual uprating of pensions for pensioners who’ve emigrated came up. At the moment where you move to depends on how much you get. Some have theirs annually uprated, whereas some have them fixed at the amount the pension was worth when they left. Which depending on where they’ve emigrated to, could be a substantial amount indeed. Richard Harington, the Pensions Minister uttered a stark reminder of exactly where this governments priorities lie.

The governments position remains consistent with that of every government for the last seventy years and the annual cost of changing a long-standing policy will soon be £0.5 Billion which the government believes cannot be justified.