What does a general election mean for the state pension triple lock?

The future of the state pension is a big issue for many voters. What have the political parties said about the triple lock so far, and will we see it included in any of the manifestos?

Houses of Parliament overlooking the River Thames
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pensions are likely to be a key focus as we head towards the general election on 4 July. 

And one of the biggest issues that many voters want to know about - and which will have a big impact on the UK economy - is the state pension triple lock.

The triple lock dictates that the state pension rises every April in line with inflation, average earnings or by 2.5% – whichever is higher. Last month, the state pension increased by 8.5% (in line with wage growth).

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However, there has been uncertainty over whether future governments will continue with the triple lock. Critics warn it is becoming increasingly expensive to fund, and potentially causes intergenerational unfairness.

"The future of the state pension – most notably the triple lock – is a major issue. It’s a divisive policy with younger generations shouldering the ever-burgeoning cost,” comments Helen Morrissey, head of retirement analysis at the wealth manager Hargreaves Lansdown.

Research by Hargreaves Lansdown reveals that one third of people (33%) say they would be more likely to vote for a party that kept the triple lock - though the results vary with age. Just 16% of the 18-34 age group would be more likely to vote for a party pledging to keep the triple lock, compared to 54% of the over 55s.

“It’s a controversial issue that divides the generations,” notes Morrissey. “In fact, 10% of younger voters said they would actually be less likely to vote for a party that protected the triple lock.”

The full new state pension is currently worth £221.20 per week, or just over £11,500 a year. About 12 million people receive the state pension. 

We look at what the political parties have announced about the triple lock so far.


Prime minister Rishi Sunak confirmed in March that the triple-lock pledge would be in the Conservative manifesto. He said the public can “safely assume” it will be kept in place throughout the next parliament if the Tories win the next election.

He had previously refused to commit to the triple lock; last autumn Sunak declined to say when pressed if it would be in the party manifesto. However, he did say: “This is the government that introduced and is committed to the triple lock.”

Indeed, it was the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government that introduced the triple lock in 2010.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has also signalled his commitment to the triple lock, saying he was confident a growing economy will help fund it.


Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has committed to keeping the triple lock, so we should see it in the Labour manifesto

Last month, he wrote in the Express: "Britain’s pensioners deserve better. They deserve certainty, and for politicians to be straight with them so they can plan their lives.

"That’s why I’m guaranteeing that the pensions triple lock will be in the Labour manifesto and protected for the duration of the next parliament."

He added: "I reject the arguments of those who say the triple lock needs to go because we can no longer afford to protect pensioners."

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems claim to have been the first UK party to commit to protecting the triple lock, announcing last September that it would keep the policy.

The party said: “We are proud that we are the ones who brought in the triple lock, lifting thousands of vulnerable pensioners out of poverty. And we are proud to be the first UK party to commit to keeping it in future.”

The Lib Dems criticised the Tories for “breaking its manifesto promise” and replacing the triple lock with a double lock in 2022.

The government suspended the triple lock for a year due to the pandemic distorting wage growth figures. It used a double lock (inflation, or 2.5%, whichever was highest) to up-rate pensions in April 2022.

Since then, there has been considerable uncertainty over whether the government would downgrade the triple lock to a double lock again, or change the policy in a different way.

So, will the pension triple lock continue after the next election? 

Pension experts say it’s important there is “absolute clarity” about the triple lock during the election campaigning. 

Kate Smith, head of pensions at the insurer Aegon, comments: “Given their importance to the public, pensions policy will likely play a prominent part of the electoral debate.

“As such, a major priority within each political party’s manifesto should be to give absolute clarity on their plans for the vitally important issues of the state pension triple lock and the funding of social care.”

She notes that while the Conservatives and Labour have verbally committed to maintaining the triple lock, as the state pension “is the foundation of most peoples’ retirement plans, we need concrete commitments as to whether they will keep or reform it”.

The charity Age UK is campaigning to keep the triple lock, saying it was “working to influence the manifestos of all political parties” to include a pledge to protect the policy in the future.

Smith adds: “[A clear commitment to keep or reform the triple lock] is important because it has become a highly controversial policy, with the recent period of inflation and earnings volatility having generated abnormally high, and costly, increases to the state pension.

“Despite the calls for reform, its popularity with pensioners could well be the deciding factor in which position each party takes.”

Morrissey is one such person calling for reform. She argues: “Regardless of who wins this election, people need certainty as to what they will receive from the state pension, and when, and we need a long-term plan. 

"The eventual victor needs to implement a review of the state pension system and the triple lock’s role within it to give people comfort that they can plan for their future without any nasty surprises.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has called for the triple lock to be scrapped, and replaced with a system that links the state pension to median earnings.

Could a new government change the state pension age?

Committing to the triple lock could have repercussions on the state pension age. A ballooning triple lock bill could be offset by raising the age at which people can claim the state pension.

Tom Selby, director of public policy at the investment platform AJ Bell, explains: “While neither party is likely to talk about it in their manifesto, it is possible planned state pension age increases will come into focus for the next administration. 

“The current state pension age is 66, with plans in place to raise this to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2046. However, there have been calls from various quarters to accelerate that timetable in order to save the Treasury money.”

According to the Hargreaves Lansdown research, raising the state pension age may put voters off: 32% of people said this would make them less likely to vote for a party, including 22% of those aged between 18-34.

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.