Senior Tory MP: State pension triple-lock ‘difficult to justify’

Senior Tory backbencher and former defence secretary Liam Fox has said the triple lock on the state pension is “difficult to explain” to young families.

In an interview with the Spectator, Fox questions his party’s spending commitments and warns the state pension promise will “come back as a very big cost, an unexpectedly large cost”.

He says: “I also look at young families who are in some cases finding it difficult to balance their budgets, finding it difficult to make ends meet and I wonder how we can justify to them why those who are retired automatically justify at least a 2.5 per cent rise in their pension every year.”

He adds: “We have made the commitments we’ve made, but I find it difficult to explain sometimes why these are set in stone and when you look at some of the relative spending, you will see that we are spending more on the elderly heating allowance this year than on GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 combined.”

All of the major parties backed the triple-lock – which ensures pension payments increase by the higher of 2.5 per cent, earnings or inflation – in the build up to the election.

In their manifesto, the Tories pledged to maintain the policy installed under former Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb until at least 2020.

But think-tanks and pension providers have questioned the affordability of the policy and the way the Government accounts for future payments on its balance sheet.