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End triple lock to prevent intergenerational unfairness, says House of Lords

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A House of Lords committee has proposed a raft of changes to ‘outdated’ age-specific benefits to improve intergenerational fairness.

The committee said ministers should focus on housing and training, rather than benefits such as free TV licences.

Specifically, it said local authorities should have planning policies in place to meet the housing needs of both younger and older people. It should increase funding for training non-graduates and ensure that workers in the ‘gig’ economy have the same rights as other workers.

Peers also recommended that the controversial ‘triple lock’ mechanism should be removed. This guarantees that pensions will rise by the higher of inflation, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is the higher. It also suggested phasing out free TV licences based on age.

Conservative peer Lord True said: “Both young and older people recognise the contribution the other makes and the challenges they face.

“However, there is a risk that those connections could be undermined if the government does not get a grip on key issues such as access to housing, secure employment and fairness in tax and benefits.”

“Triple lock has served its purpose”

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon said: “As the age profile and distribution of wealth of our population continues to change, it’s critical that all government policies are considered through a lens of intergenerational fairness.

“The state pension triple lock has served its purpose of boosting the level of state pensions faster than average earnings but continuing it indefinitely is not financially sustainable.

“For younger people, considering their default employment status as ‘worker’ is a helpful protection and should come with employee benefits such as auto enrolment into a pension.

“Perhaps the greatest intergenerational challenge of all is how to find a fair and sustainable means of funding social care. The Government is still to deliver on its commitment to revisit this and looking at potential solutions across the age spectrum will be essential.”

However, he said that while pensioners are on average better off aggregate figures hide significant discrepancies and across the country there are still many older people who struggle with fixed costs such as heating bills. He added: “Some universal benefits like a free TV licence for wealthy pensioners do look hard to justify but the government should proceed with caution when it comes to reform of areas like the state pension.”


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