Jeremy Hunt makes huge state pension triple lock threat in Budget bombshell | Politics | News

Jeremy Hunt has suggested the pension triple lock is “under review” as the government scrambles to fund increases in defence spending and boost economic growth.

The chancellor said the measure, which guarantees that the state pension rises by the highest of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 percent, is subject to improving the ministers’ goals of raising public sector productivity and increasing the annual rate of GDP growth.

Speaking at a hearing of the Lords’ economic affairs committee, Mr Hunt added: “We do need to keep looking at welfare reform because it is incredibly destructive to society if, inadvertently and for all the right reasons, a system ends up parking people outside the world of work.”

Delivering the spring budget earlier this month, Mr Hunt said defence spending was above 2%, Nato’s target, and would rise to 2.5 percent “as soon as economic conditions allow”.

The chancellor today confirmed that spending needed to rise to 2.5 percent from 2 percent “as soon as it is affordable.”

But An increase of that scale would cost around £12 billion a year.

Mr Hunt said: “One of the particular challenges we have at the moment is that the welfare system identifies mental health challenges as a reason why someone should not be asked to look for work.

“There will be cases when not being in the workplace is detrimental to people’s mental health and it will be much better if those individuals were supported to live with their mental health conditions in a way that allows them to work. That is a very big change.”

He added: “When it comes to welfare there are some very particular issues that we need to keep thinking about how we can reform.”

There was a peak of over 2.8 million people not working due to long-term sickness in the UK in November 2023.

This figure has been rising considerably since 2019, when there were just 1.97 million people economically inactive for this reason.

As of 2022, some of the most common health conditions cited as the reason for long-term sickness were to do with mental health issues, with 313,00 suffering from mental illness, and a further 282,000 for depression-related illness.

It is also likely that the Covid-19 pandemic caused an impact, with around 1.8 million people in April 2022 reporting an experience of Long Covid.

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