Tag Archives: triple

Lords defeat Tory plan to remove pensions triple lock

Pensions: it seems this time the Tories have been prevented from stabbing our senior citizens in the back.

This is excellent news – and a welcome surprise after Labour Baron Prem Sikka signalled that the Lords had failed to support his amendment to save the triple lock.

It seems they then supported a cross-party amendment to keep the pensions triple lock in place.

Peers by 280 votes to 178 backed a cross-party motion to keep retirement payouts linked to earnings – a large majority of 102.

Under the amendment the so-called “triple lock” would stay in place but adjustments would be allowed to be made for the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The defeat means the government will either have to accept the amendment, or send its original plan back to the Lords again and risk prolonging the political row.

The Tories are now whining that they have only suspended the triple lock for a single year – but Baron Sikka demonstrated yesterday that this would result in a loss of more than £30 billion to pensioners by 2027:

Under the triple lock, the state pension rises every year by the general rate of increase in earnings, the rate of inflation, or 2.5 per cent – whichever is the highest.

Because earnings fell dramatically during the first part of the pandemic and then rebounded quickly, an unmodified version of the pension triple lock would see a sharp rise in the state pension of around 8 per cent. The government wants to pass legislation that would stop this from happening automatically, and says it will reinstate the policy after the pandemic.

Source: Boris Johnson suffers heavy defeat in House of Lords over pensions triple lock | The Independent

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MP says he never intended to make people colder and poorer – while doing just that

Craig Mackinlay: busy making his constituents colder and poorer.

Check out the complete failure of self-understanding displayed by Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay in this clip from the BBC’s Politics Live:

He said he didn’t become a Conservative – I think he means a Tory MP – to make his constituents colder and poorer.

But he should know perfectly well that being a Conservative MP means doing both of those things.

Consider the decision to end the triple lock on pensions for a year because the Covid-19-related fall and rise in earnings had created an anomalously large percentage wage increase that had not been anticipated when the idea had been enshrined in law.

That single change will mean a massive fall in pensioners’ incomes, that has already been mapped out as far as five years into the future:

An attempt by Baron Sikka to save the triple lock, during a debate in the House of Lords, was foiled when other peers shouted over his call for a vote:

So we see that by voting to abandon the pensions triple lock (as you can see by checking Hansard here), Mackinlay did indeed – deliberately and knowingly – make his constituents poorer.

Remember that, even though pensions are still being uprated, inflation is higher than it has been in many years; the cost of things like heating will outstrip pensioners’ ability to pay for them.

And that brings me to Mackinlay’s claim about making his constituents colder. If they can’t afford to heat their homes then they will be colder. It’s as simple as that.

And his government’s refusal to accept Insulate Britain’s call for social housing to be properly insulated (rather than left to be leaky, as they are now) mean any heat generated in these dwellings dissipates into the atmosphere, increasing climate change.

And that brings us back to Mackinlay’s argument – that he doesn’t think the investment in fighting climate change is worthwhile.

Either he has not realised that ensuring that people are warm, by spending on insulation, would help to fight climate change – or he’s disingenuously trying to convince you of that.

That’s just a simple chain of logic involving two sets of people. Feel free to work out ways the Tories are impoverishing and freezing other sections of society.

And if you ever meet Craig Mackinlay, feel free to point out the faults in his logic.

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Did Starmer sabotage Brexit talks to aid his own – and Boris Johnson’s – leadership ambitions?

All in it together: with Keir Starmer backing him up and blocking opposition, Boris Johnson can do whatever he likes. And are they both lining their pockets at our expense?

Boris Johnson was only able to force Theresa May out of Downing Street and become prime minister himself because Keir Starmer sabotaged Brexit talks, a biography of the Labour leader claims.

Lord (Michael) Ashcroft’s book Red Knight: The Unauthorised Biography of Keir Starmer alleges that Starmer blocked a deal with Theresa May’s government that could have resulted in a ‘soft’ Brexit.

We should be grateful to the blog Colonel Despard’s Radical Comment for teasing out the important details:

Ashcroft’s book notes that May had invited Jeremy Corbyn to take part in cross-party talks in an attempt to agree a unified approach to Brexit. Starmer led the Labour delegation. According to an extract published in the Daily Mail, “The meetings opened with some optimism. The Government team quickly discerned, however, that some of those in the Labour camp were more willing to compromise than others. While those in Corbyn’s close team ‘were sending out signals that they wanted a deal’, Starmer was insistent that an agreement had to include a second referendum.”

While on the surface conducting himself professionally, behind the scenes it appeared that Starmer himself was giving negative briefings to the media that undermined the talks. May’s former director of communications, Sir Robbie Gibb, believes that Starmer was responsible for leaks that contradicted the joint reports agreed with Seumas Milne, Gibb’s Labour counterpart.

Gibb told Ashcroft: “there were briefings to the BBC’s Today programme saying that the cross-party talks are going nowhere. I’d get a call from the BBC saying, ‘I believe the talks are on the verge of collapse.’ ‘Well, who have you spoken to?’, I’d say. ‘Can’t say. It’s official sources’. He is convinced the negative briefings came from Starmer or his team, and that the mixed messages highlighted conflicting attitudes within the Labour delegation.”

According to Labour sources quoted by Ashcroft, Starmer was the most deal-resistant of the Labour negotiators, and worked to undermine those in Corbyn’s team who were in favour of a deal.

The book further alleges that Starmer did this in order to get support from the People’s Vote campaign that would translate into votes for him in a Labour leadership election.

The failure of the talks also led to May’s resignation and a Conservative leadership election that ended with Boris Johnson’s ascension to the leadership – and the role of UK prime minister – because of Keir Starmer’s interference.

But did Starmer’s treachery go further than that? Was he in fact supporting hard-Brexit Tories all along?

It has been argued that the only reason Labour’s Brexit policy at the 2019 general election was confused, leading to the party’s historically major loss was… Keir Starmer.

He had made a major intervention at the party’s 2018 conference responding to clear anti-Brexit sentiment among delegates by unilaterally introducing the idea that there would be a Remain option in a second referendum.

According to the blog article, this led to a policy change that would

accentuate the divisions between remain supporters and MPs from leave-voting Labour constituencies in the north who warned at the time that the policy would lose the party votes in a new election – which is in fact what happened.

So it seems Keir Starmer deliberately engineered Labour’s 2019 election loss.

This evidence strongly suggests not only that Starmer had worked to undermine Labour’s policy in order to further his own career, but also that he deliberately supported Boris Johnson’s – and continues to do so, to this day.

Starmer dropped his support for remaining in the European Union like a hot potato as soon as he was elected Labour leader.

The disasters caused by Brexit, that have led to the collapse of the UK’s transport infrastructure and shortages of products that we previously took for granted, have created golden opportunities for a Remain-supporting Starmer to criticise the Tory Brexit.

But he has been silent.

Not only that, but he has also supported Johnson on other matters.

The Tory response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a national tragedy, with hundreds of thousands of deaths* and millions of people likely to suffer the debilitating effects of Long Covid.

But Starmer has been silent. Indeed, he has only raised his voice to support government policies like the catastrophic decision to reopen schools last year, allowing the virus to access a superhighway into homes across the UK that created the winter surge at the end of 2020 and beginning of this year.

That is just one prominent example. You can probably pick out your own favourites from any number of Tory policies that Starmer has either overtly or tacitly supported, or failed to oppose in any meaningful way.

Now he has whipped Labour MPs to abstain on the scrapping of the triple-lock on pensions that, until now, protected what little value the UK state pension provided to our senior citizens.

The loss of the increase that would have been provided this year will now become structural, meaning future pensioners will be disadvantaged in perpetuity by this betrayal.

You may find it hard to accept.

But there is a clear argument that Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson are “all in it together”, as the former Tory slogan has it – and in it for themselves.

With Johnson as prime minister and Starmer blocking any possibility of strong opposition, they can line their pockets while the rest of us suffer.

*Remember, the official figures only record deaths within 28 days of a diagnosis, in order to reduce public feeling against the government’s failed policies.

Source: Starmer sabotaged soft Brexit talks to aid his leadership ambitions | Colonel Despard’s Radical Comment

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Pension triple lock scrapped for a year. But will the Tories stop there?

This Site predicted the suspension of the pensions triple lock, so it’s no surprise here.

The problem with the commitment to increase pensions every year by the highest of pensions, earnings or 2.5 per cent is that it did not anticipate a huge fall in earnings like that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by a similarly whopping rise when everybody went back to work and pay packets re-balanced.

It meant the highest of the three benchmarks – this year – is a massive eight per cent increase. And the Tories don’t want to pay it.

Back in July, I suggested the Tories were making a big fuss about nothing because they could impose a stop-gap increase that reflects the increase in the cost of living (which is what the triple lock is supposed to do).

It turns out that the Tories are doing something similar. Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that – for this year only – pensions would rise by inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher. The earnings increase will be restored to the calculation next year.

The decision has caused bitter resentment in some quarters, because people are upset that the Tories have broken a manifesto promise.

But this misses the point completely.

The point is that the UK state pension is one of the worst pension deals in the whole world.

On retirement, our pensioners will receive, on average, 29 per cent of their former earnings. This compares with an increase of 0.6 per cent in the Netherlands, more than 90 per cent of former earnings in Portugal, Italy and Austria, and an OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) nations’ average of nearly 63 per cent.

In fact, the UK’s pensions deal comes in at slightly worse than that provided in… Mexico.

This was a chance to level up the UK pension with some of our closest neighbours – but the Tories didn’t want to. That’s why people should be angry.

Of course, with the national insurance increase that the Tories say will pay for social care (eventually), pensioners will be worse off than ever – because pensioners who are still earning an income will pay towards it.

And there’s another aspect to this.

It is the rivalry between the old and the young over state benefits, the perception that pensioners get more than their fair share, and that they should lose some in order to correct a perceived imbalance.

This is utter piffle.

As Craig Berry states in The Guardian,

We can and should spend more on social security for young and old people alike.

To believe that a Conservative government would invest what it saves by removing the triple lock on today’s young people requires some magical thinking.

In practice, by reducing the state pension accrual rate (the entitlements we build up in return for paying national insurance), scrapping the triple lock would effectively amount to a significant tax hike on young people.

That’s because the tax they pay now would entitle them to a lower income in retirement than previously anticipated.

So it is ridiculous to suggest that we need to cut pension increases in order to help the young. It simply won’t happen.

Let’s face it – it simply hasn’t happened.

The (alleged) social care-related increase to National Insurance will affect young people and pensioners alike.

Because that’s what Tories are like.

They don’t take away from one group that needs help, in order to give to another.

They take from both, in order to give to themselves – as you can see with Boris Johnson’s National Insurance hike.

My only question is, do we believe them when they say they’re going to bring the triple lock back?

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Child poverty set to have more than TRIPLED due to Tory benefit cuts since 2010

The Conservatives abolished targets for reducing child poverty in 2015.

The cumulative impact of current Conservative government changes to state benefits means child poverty will double, in comparison with the current level.

It is currently understood that 4.1 million children are in poverty. That’s 30 per cent of all children.

So Tory cuts will put 60 per cent of children in poverty, if the number of children in the UK remains steady; 8.2 million youngsters.

That’s shameful enough; 18 children in every classroom of 30 will be in poverty thanks to Tory policies in very short order.

But that’s not the worst of it.

You need to understand that child poverty has already increased by nearly three-fifths under the cuts the Tories have already imposed.

In 2009-10, there were only 2.6 million children in poverty. And that was considered too many by the Labour government of the day.

So the latest research shows child poverty is expected to have more-than-tripled since 2010, by the time the Conservative cuts really bite.

This means the childhood of 60 per cent of people will be blighted by the Conservatives.

Half of them – nine children in every classroom of 30 – will not be able to go on holiday for even one week in the year.

By the time they take their GCSEs, there will be a 27 per cent achievement gap between pupils on free school meals and their colleagues with wealthier parents.

The effects continue through later life. Men in the most deprived areas of England die an average of 9.2 years earlier than those in the least deprived areas – and spend 14 per cent less of their lives in good health. The statistics for women are similar.

And the impoverishment of your children doesn’t even save the state any money.

Governments forgo prospective revenues and commit themselves to providing services in the future if they fail to address child poverty.

The cost of child poverty on the UK government at the moment is estimated to be at least £29 billion per year.

Those are the findings of the Child Poverty Action Group.

The meaning is clear:

Child poverty harms all of us. Perhaps that’s why the Tories like inflicting it on young people.

Changes to social security benefits are devastating family incomes and will double the number of UK children living in poverty, according to a damning new report published today.

Research by Policy in Practice, on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner for England, found that policies like Universal Credit, the Two-Child Limit, and Benefit Cap affect 48% of households and will leave them worse off by £3,441 per year.

Overall, the cumulative impact of all welfare reforms “is considerably greater than the impact of each reform in isolation”, the report says.

Source: Tory benefit cuts will double the number of children living in poverty

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GDP figures due – will Gideon have anything to show for his austerity idiocy?

Triple-dip breakfast: Will we all be dining on the sour cereal of recession again, when GDP figures are published on Thursday morning?

Triple-dip breakfast: Will we all be dining on the sour cereal of recession again, when GDP figures are published on Thursday morning?

Thursday will be another ‘crunch’ day for our part-time Chancellor of the Exchequer – he’s having quite a lot of those lately, isn’t he?

Only last week, the academic justification for his austerity policy was disproven by an American student (oh, the shame!), and then his former allies at the International Monetary Fund distanced themselves from him (oh, the betrayal!) saying he should calm down a bit.

That’s the best advice this columnist has ever heard the IMF provide; if not for his own health, then for the nation’s.

Thursday, though, is a really big day. On Thursday, GDP figures for the first quarter of 2013 will be published.

It is a sign of how low expectations have fallen, that all the economic commentators are saying the best we can expect is to have kept out of a triple-dip recession – with falls in output due to the weather, among other things, making that unprecedented outcome more likely.

There is a problem with all of these predictions, which should be obvious to those of us living in the real world: Short-termism.

It’s all about how the UK managed in the last quarter, how it will manage in the next; what the situation is today. What about six months from now? What about next year? What about 2015, when we’re all expecting an election and the chance to banish this nightmare? What about 2017-18, when 0sborne still reckons he’ll have eliminated the budget deficit (fat chance)?

The fact is that the only options open to a Chancellor in the current climate are unpalatable to the Boy.

He could boost investment in infrastructure, in a bid to make this country a better place to open – and carry out – business. The trouble is, this tends to be a long-term project and he no longer has the time. His chances would have been better if he had started this in 2010, but his government cancelled as many such projects as they could back then, claiming it was more important to cut public spending in order to balance the books.

That was a vain hope. Without new investment, the country has lost revenue.

But if that is unpalatable, the other alternative is likely to make him choke on his pate de foie gras (or whatever it is these posh boys ingest): Increase the spending power of the poor.

It is known that the ‘trickle-down effect’ is a myth – giving all of a country’s money to the very rich, in the belief that they will spend it, boosting the economy and the income of the poor, is nonsense. What they actually do is bank it – in offshore tax havens, most likely. That is what 0sborne has been doing; it is another reason the economy has bombed.

It is also a rock-solid fact that poor people do spend their money – or as much as they can get their hands on. When you are constantly struggling to make ends meet, it’s very hard to keep cash in the bank – you have to spend it on food, clothes, rent, heat, light, water… the list is endless, because it constantly repeats.

When you don’t have much cash, as Edmund Blackadder once said, you feel like a pelican. Everywhere you turn, there’s a large bill in front of you.

That money does work for society. It reinvigorates the economy as it filters through different hands. And it brings with it the extra joy of fiscal multipliers – every pound that gets put into the economy is worth more after it has been through.

The trouble is, Gideon shut off that money supply. He raised VAT, making it harder for working-class people and those on benefits to buy certain economy-boosting products, and then he and Iain Duncan Smith spent the last few years on their project to depress wages.

(For clarity, it goes like this: The DWP makes the benefit system so difficult to navigate that people in receipt have to do their utmost to get off-benefit as soon as possible. This means they are constantly looking for jobs, which in turn makes it possible for employers to refuse pay rises for their workforce, with the classic line that “there are plenty of other people who’d be happy to have your job, you know!” You didn’t really think the benefit cap was about making work pay, did you?)

Say what you like about Labour, but they’ve got the right idea when it comes to the money supply. Ed Balls wants to cut VAT; he wants to bring back the 10 per cent tax rate for the lowest-paid; he wants to bring in a National Insurance holiday for companies that agree to take on new employees.

These are measures that will help.

What is Gideon going to do?