Tory strategists are deciding whether they will gamble on a new way to attack pensioners and future pensioners.
There is speculation that the Tories will dump the “triple lock” in their election manifesto launch on Monday.
The triple lock, introduced in 2010, defends the value of the state pension. It guarantees that the pension will rise each year by whichever is highest – the rise in prices, the rise in average earnings or 2.5 percent.
This sounds like an obscure technical point, but it will affect millions of pensioners and workers who are nearing pension age. Even with the triple lock, pensioners are dying because of poverty.
A University College London study estimated that 9,000 people died in the winter of 2014-15 in England and Wales because of cold homes. It said a fifth of the 43,900 excess winter deaths were caused by cold homes – and said it was the highest number for 15 years.
Scrapping the triple lock will put even more older people at risk.
The triple lock was a response to simmering anger over an explosion of poverty. The state pension had slumped to its lowest level ever as a proportion of full time earnings.
The Tories will be nervous of getting rid of it and taking more money from pensioners – who are more likely to vote. At the moment they are also more likely to vote Tory.
If they do attack the triple lock they will say pensioners have suffered less than some others during austerity. But it’s a myth that most pensioners are well off.