The “triple lock” on the state pension is looking increasingly likely to be weakened as the Government tries to rein in an enormous benefits bill caused by the distorting effects of the pandemic.
Although changing the formula by which pensions are increased would require a vote in Parliament, it is expected Tory MPs will fall into line. A number of backbenchers who represent constituencies with the oldest populations in Britain said they would not stand in the way if Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak tamper with the way the lock is calculated to save billions of pounds in payments.
Duncan Baker, Conservative MP for North Norfolk, which has the largest proportion of pensioners in Britain, said he would support the use of a lower figure for wage growth to avoid distortions created by the pandemic. “An electorate will forgive a government for many things, but not for losing control of public spending,” he said.
The Treasury Committee, an influential group of cross-party MPs, has repeatedly warned about the unaffordability of the triple lock next year. Mel Stride, chair of the committee and the Conservative MP for Central Devon, urged the Chancellor to temporarily suspend the wages element of the lock.
Pensioners have hit out against the breaking of a Conservative manifesto pledge, warning that it would be “unfair” and “immoral”.
While you may have no control over whether the triple lock remains in place, there are three simple things you can do now to boost your pension.
1. Fill in any National Insurance gaps
The full state pension is only paid out to those who have at least 35 years of NI contributions. Anyone falling short can boost the amount of state pension they receive by making a one-off payment to HM Revenue & Customs. The full state pension is £179.60 a week.
There are several reasons someone may have missed out on contributions, such as if they were employed but earning too little. Only those paid more than £184 a week will pay towards NI. Those living abroad or who are self-employed but do not pay contributions due to small profits, may also have missed payments.
It costs £15.40 to pay for a missing week of NI, known as “Class 3 National Insurance”. This adds up to £880.80 for an entire year. Anyone making up for the previous two tax years must pay the original rates for those years.