Wirral MP calls on government to protect ‘triple lock’ and urges greater take-up of Pension Credit

Margaret Greenwood MP has said that retired people in Wirral West are “desperate for certainty” over whether or not the government is going to commit to the state pension triple lock.  

The triple lock ensures that the state pension increases each year in line with whichever is highest out of inflation, the average increase in wages across the UK or 2.5%.  

Both the Conservatives and Labour committed to keeping the triple lock in place in their 2019 election manifestos. However, the Conservative government broke that promise last year when it scrapped the wages link.  

Labour’s motion, which called on the government to maintain the triple lock in the 2023-24 financial year, passed by 218 votes to zero. However, the result is not binding on the government and all Conservative MPs abstained apart from one who voted with Labour. 

It is expected that there will be a formal announcement on the policy from the government next week when the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is due to present his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons. So far, both Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have refused to publicly commit to protecting the triple lock.  

During this week’s debate, Margaret Greenwood said that the government “must do the right thing and come forward with a commitment to protect the triple lock.”  

The MP for Wirral West, who is a former Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, also raised the issue of pensioner poverty and asked the pensions minister to set out what action the government will take to encourage greater take-up of Pension Credit, a benefit which some people who are over State Pension age are entitled to, but many do not claim.  

Pension Credit tops up the income of a single person to £182.60 and a couple to £278.70. Some people with higher incomes are also eligible, for example, if they are disabled. People who have other responsibilities and costs may be entitled to extra amounts known as Guarantee Credit.  

Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “A number of residents in Wirral West have written to me and spoken to me about their extreme anxiety about the cost of living crisis.  

“They want to see a commitment from the government to maintaining the state pension triple lock for the next financial year.  

“One Wirral West resident who is in her early 80s wrote to me to say that she suffers from a number of health issues. It is vital for her to keep warm, and even though she is cutting back on using the heating, her energy bills keep rising alarmingly.  

“Another constituent told me that she and her husband sit with blankets wrapped around themselves as they cannot afford to put on the central heating at all.”  

“One woman in her mid-70s simply asked for the triple lock to be protected so that she and other pensioners can afford to live.”  

“It is clear that the triple lock on the state pension must be maintained for my constituents and for people across the country.   

“It is about dignity and security for older people. There are around two million pensioners in the UK living in poverty.  

“Age UK has said that malnutrition is a growing risk for older people, and that if the government fails to raise the state pension and benefits in line with inflation, they will plunge many people into a genuinely desperate situation.  

“This is a stark warning and is a matter of very real concern.  

“Take up of Pension Credit is not as high as it should be, with only seven out of 10 people who are eligible to claim it doing so. The minister acknowledged in the debate that that means £3,300 of additional support is not being claimed by around 850,000 households.   

“Pension Credit also acts as a passport to other benefits, including a TV licence and access to Housing Benefit and council tax support.   

“I would urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible for Pension Credit to visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit  or contact the Pension Service helpline on 0800 731 0469.  

“I would also encourage people to look out for elderly relatives, friends and neighbours and encourage them to check if they might be eligible.”  

“It is vital that people get the support that they are entitled to.”  

Image: Mark Timberlake

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