Triple lock rules explained – ‘these are people’s lives not just an arbitrary number’

State pension will increase every tax year under “triple lock” rules. The triple lock system recently raised state pension payments to their highest rate in years.


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In April, state pension payments rose by 3.9 percent which was more than double the rate of inflation for the same period.

This meant that the basic state pension rose by £5.05 per week with people on the full rate introduced in 2016 saw their payments rise by over £6 a week, boosting them to £175.20.

While these increases may seem relatively small at first glance, taken collectively they can be a huge cost to the state.

Because of this, some have called the rules into question, arguing that the scheme is too generous and ultimately costly for the taxpayer.

On the other side of this, some feel that the triple lock system does not go far enough.

While the last rise was particularly high, it should be noted that state pension provides a fraction of what is usually received as income from employment

State pensioners on low incomes are a nationwide problem and payment increases over the long-term struggle to keep up with the cost of living and inflation, which the state aims to keep at two percent.

Despite this, the triple lock system aims to provide the best result possible for the country’s state pensioners.

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The triple lock system was introduced in 2011 and it guarantees that state pension will increase by the highest of:

  • The rate of inflation
  • Average earnings growth or
  • 2.5 percent

For the last two years the highest of the three options has been wage growth.

The biggest increase seen overall came in April 2012, where the state pension was raised by 5.2 percent.


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As revealed yesterday in leaked documents, the government may be considering scrapping the triple lock system in a cost cutting measure.

This is purportedly in reaction to coronavirus costs and the state may be making alterations to other tax rules.

This may help with the government’s bottom line but Claire Trott, the Head of Pensions Strategy at St. James’s Place, explained that more should be looked at than just the numbers: “Pensions are often seen as easy pickings for the Government to save money, but it shouldn’t be that, these are people’s lives not just an arbitrary number.

“I feel that targeting pensioners specifically is unfair.

“Although it is clear that on the other side of this crisis there may be difficult decisions to be made in relation to a lot of issues, such as tax relief on pension contributions.

“now isn’t the time to be throwing these ideas around.

“The time will be when we understand the full impact of what has happened and what the new normal is for everyone.”

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