UK state pension could hit £13,000 ‘in next five years’

The state pension triple lock could add more than £1,500 to the state support if it’s continued beyond the next general election by the next government.

The UK state pension triple lock symbolised by three interlinked padlocks and UK coins
The UK state pension is set to increase 8.5% in April
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UK state pension could pay out more than £13,000 a year by 2030 if the current triple lock rules remain in place, analysis by AJ Bell has found.

Pensioners with a full National Insurance contributions record can currently get £10,600 a year (£203.85 per week). From April, this will rise 8.5% to £11,502 annually (£221.20 a week) in line with the rapid increase in earnings registered last summer. It has led to warnings that some pensioners could be landed with an unexpected tax bill in 2025 due to the freeze on the income tax allowance.

It is understood that Labour is likely to commit to maintaining the policy in its next general election manifesto. There have also been indications that the Conservative Party, which introduced the triple lock in 2011, will pledge to continue with it - although the party has indicated it may scrap it in the long term.

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It comes amid mounting concerns over the affordability of the commitment. In February, former pensions ministers David Gauke and Lord (David) Blunkett both said the triple lock should be scrapped. Last summer, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) identified the commitment as a “fiscal risk”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is unlikely to announce pension reforms in the Spring Budget. The speech is expected to focus on tax cuts and government spending announcements.

UK state pension ‘to hit £13,000+’ by end of decade

According to investment platform AJ Bell, the state pension triple lock could rise to £13,236.10 in April 2029 if it’s maintained by the next government. This would work out at £254.54 a week for the 2029/30 tax year.

The triple lock guarantees the value of pensions will increase annually by the highest percentage out of:

AJ Bell expects earnings data will dominate the next two prospective triple locks, before 2.5% is used to uprate the state pension over the following three financial years. Its estimates are based on Bank of England forecasts for inflation and wages up to 2027/28, after which it assumes both percentages will sit at 2%. Here’s how the triple lock could look between now and the end of the decade:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
How the UK state pension could change between now and 2030
YearFull new state pension valueCPI inflationEarnings growthTriple lock increase applied
2027/28 £12,598.312%1.75%2.5%
2028/29 £12,913.272%2%2.5%
2029/30 £13,236.102%2%2.5%

‘Clear plan’ needed for UK state pension

AJ Bell said its findings would come as good news for retirees. But it warned there needs to be more of a debate about the future of the state pension, as opposed to the “safety-first approach” the main parties are following in a bid to secure the votes of older people.

Tom Selby, director of public policy at AJ Bell, said: “The policy has become a totem for ‘doing right by pensioners’, with debate over the state pension often restricted solely to politicians’ commitment to increasing the benefit by the highest of average earnings growth, inflation or 2.5%.

“While the policy is understandably popular, it remains entirely aimless, with neither major party clearly stating how much they believe the state pension should be worth. As the real value of the state pension rises as a result of the triple lock, it also increases the likelihood of planned state pension age hikes being accelerated to balance the books, creating both uncertainty and the potential for intergenerational unfairness.”

Selby called on the next government to “set a clear plan” for the state pension by working out what its “fair value” is. For example, he said this value could be set as a proportion of average earnings (in 2022, it was 24.5% of average wages), and the length of time retirees would be expected to receive it. Selby added that there should also be more planning for how the pension rises during pandemic and cost of living crisis scenarios.

He said: “For this necessary reform to happen, politicians will need to show bravery and step beyond the current ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ debate over the triple lock. The state pension remains the bedrock upon which people’s retirement plans are built, so embedding at least some certainty into the system is crucial to help Brits plan with confidence.

“Given how politically charged debates over the state pension can be, an independent commission will likely be necessary to build cross-party support and deliver reforms that stand the test of time.”

However, Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at the pension provider PensionBee, said it was doubtful we would see reforms any time soon. She said: “The government has already committed to maintaining the triple lock guarantee and given the extent to which this benefits older voters, it seems unlikely that a much called-for review of the triple lock would be initiated now.”

According to DWP figures, the state pension will cost the UK £124.3 billion in 2023/24. A report from the House of Commons Library estimates the state support would have cost £114.5 billion - £9.8 billion (7.9%) less - had pensions gone up in line with earnings since the triple lock was introduced in 2011/12. The saving would have been £10 billion had pensions risen in line with inflation.

Henry Sandercock
Staff Writer

Henry Sandercock has spent more than eight years as a journalist covering a wide variety of beats. Having studied for an MA in journalism at the University of Kent, he started his career in the garden of England as a reporter for local TV channel KMTV. 

Henry then worked at the BBC for three years as a radio producer - mostly on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine, but also on major BBC Radio 4 programmes like The World at One, PM and Broadcasting House. Switching to print media, he covered fresh foods for respected magazine The Grocer for two years. 

After moving to - a national news site run by the publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post - Henry began reporting on the cost of living crisis, becoming the title’s money editor in early 2023. He covered everything from the energy crisis to scams, and inflation. You will now find him writing for MoneyWeek. Away from work, Henry lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their whippet Whisper.