This year has seen seismic political shifts not just in the U.K. but across the world. Who would have thought two years ago that we would be leaving the European Union and across the pond Donald Trump would be President elect of the United States of America?
On a more domestic level, things are changing too. Back when David Cameron was Prime minister, the 'triple lock' pension was a guaranteed safety net for pensioners in which their pension was increased each April by the higher of the growth in average earnings, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or 2.5%. It was a policy that Cameron was very protective of, as can be seen from his quote during his time as Prime Minister:
"If you've worked hard during your life, saved, paid your taxes, done the right thing, you deserve dignity when you retire. "These people have fought wars, seen us through recessions – made this the great country it is today. They brought us into the world and cared for us, and now it's our turn – our fundamental duty – to care for them".
However, the signs were there during the new Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement in which the government's flagship triple lock whilst remaining in place looks to be under threat in the future. Speaking yesterday, he said that the state pension will continue to rise until 2020 but suggested that after that, changes may be needed to "tackle the challenge of rising longevity". Speaking in Parliament he said:
"We will meet our pledge to our country's pensioners through the triple lock. But as we look ahead to the next Parliament, we will need to ensure we tackle the challenges of rising longevity and fiscal sustainability. And so the Government will review public spending priorities and other commitments for the next Parliament in light of the evolving fiscal position at the next Spending Review."
Recently, the former pensions minister and renowned pensions expert Baroness Ros Altmann also called recently for the end of the triple lock and instead a double lock put in its place:
"The Chancellor's speech signalled pretty clearly that the state pension triple lock is only safe until 2020. I would like to see a double lock announced, whereby state pensions would rise in line with either earnings or prices.
Whilst the removal of the triple lock could be politically controversial, many financial experts agree that it is unsustainable in the long term and that tackling it eventually is required, albeit with careful thought.