I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment this week to keeping the Triple-Lock Pension Guarantee in the next Parliament should the Conservatives be re-elected with a majority in 2015. The Guarantee ensures that pensions increase annually by inflation, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is highest. This system means that the basic state pension will be around £440 a year higher from April than if it had been uprated in line with the average earnings since 2011-2012.
This pledge recognises that even in times of austerity, the contribution of those who have worked hard and done the right thing will be rewarded and avoids the shameful situation we saw in 2000 when the Basic State Pension was increased by a mere 75p. Alongside this, the Government is protecting universal benefits, including Winter Fuel Payments, bus passes and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament. Cold Weather Payments have also been increased and the Warm Home Discount introduced to provide vulnerable pensioners with an £135 rebate on their energy bills.
I understand the decision of this Government to progressively raise the pensions age which makes the rise in pensions affordable. The economy of the UK is growing again but has still not fully recovered from what this Government inherited from the previous Labour government and I recognise more difficult economic decisions will have to be made as the Chancellor has outlined.
I hope the commitment to the Triple Lock Guarantee gives reassurances that a decent state pension which allows pensioners to live with dignity and security in retirement is guaranteed. I hope the other Parties will join this Conservative commitment to the elderly and recognise through the tax and pensions systems the debt we owe to the elder generation and the importance of security in old age.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind constituents that the Consultation period on the Birmingham Development Plan began this week and ends on 6 March 2014.
To give your views on the proposals please visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/plan2031 to leave comments. Comment forms can also be obtained by calling 01213033075, by emailing email@example.com or from libraries and neighbourhood offices, where the Plan and supporting documents can also be viewed. Forms can also be received through the post by writing to
Planning and Regeneration
Birmingham City Council
PO Box 28
Birmingham B1 1TU
Or come to one of my public meetings on the issue being held before the end of the consultation period. They are taking place on the following dates: