FIVE Scottish Tory MPs have voted to scrap the triple lock on pensions, which will leave OAPs £520 worse off next year.

Douglas Ross, Andrew Bowie, David Duguid, Alister Jack and John Lamont all voted in favour of the proposal on Monday night in the House of Commons.

David Mundell was the only Scottish Tory MP who failed to vote. It is estimated the proposal will leave pensioners cumulatively £2600 worse off over the next five years.

The House of Lords had demanded a rethink from the Government over its plan to abandon a manifesto commitment on increases to the state pension because of concerns over the potential cost.

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Peers wanted to keep the link between earnings and retirement payouts through amendments to the Social Security (Uprating of Benefits Bill).

But the Commons voted to strip out the changes to the Bill made in the Lords.

The triple-lock guarantees that pensions grow in line with whichever is highest out of earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

But the Bill suspends the earnings element for 2022/23 due to fears of an unaffordable rise caused by the impact of the coronavirus crisis on wages.

Maintaining the triple-lock was a Tory manifesto commitment in the previous general election. 

The National:

Ross was one of five Scottish Tory MPs who voted to scrap the triple lock

Research from the House of Commons Library, conducted in June, revealed UK pensions are the least generous in north west Europe by comparison to the average wage.

UK pensioners currently receive around a quarter (28%) of the average working wage whilst pensioners in Luxembourg and Austria receive 90%.

David Linden MP, the SNP’s Work and Pensions spokesperson, said: “Yet again, Scotland’s six Tory MPs have failed to grow a backbone and stand up to Boris Johnson.

“Each of these MPs have voted in favour of taking money away from pensioners in their constituency and should hang their heads in shame.

"The UK currently has the least generous pensions in north west Europe, and the Tories are determined to make things even worse.

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“Scotland has had enough of constant Tory cuts and Brexit obsessed MPs. By breaking free from the chains of an undemocratic Union, Scotland could chart its own path.

“With the full powers of independence, Scotland can finally develop into a progressive, forward-thinking nation, and a nation that will always protect its pensioners from cruel Tory cuts.”

On Monday, Work and Pensions minister Guy Opperman called on MPs to reject the Lords amendment, because the increase in earnings is estimated to be 8.3% due to the pandemic.

He added a better estimate could not be reached, telling MPs in the Commons: “ONS experts investigated whether it was possible to produce a single robust figure for underlying earnings growth that stripped out impacts from the pandemic.

The National:

SNP MP David Linden hit out at the Scottish Tories who voted for the proposals

“They concluded this was not possible.

“I remind the House that over the two years of the pandemic the Government will have ensured that the pensions covered by this Bill will have increased by much more than the increase in prices.”

Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds accused the Government of trying to “have it both ways” by justifying its cut to the Universal Credit £20 weekly uplift with rising wages – while saying the predicted wage rise was artificial in relation to pensions.

Reynolds said: “According to the Prime Minister, wages are actually up, workers have never had it so good, that is why they can cut £20 from Universal Credit.

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“So the Government is making two completely opposing arguments. We don’t even know if the Government believe wages are actually rising faster than inflation.

“I would politely say to the minister, the Government cannot expect to have it both ways.

“I do feel the Government’s positions on this matter has not held up well under scrutiny and the debate has moved on considerably since we last discussed it here.”

He had urged the Government to “keep their promise” on the triple lock.

Challenged by SNP MP Linden if he would resign if the link to earnings was not restored by next year, Opperman replied: “It’s in the law that this Bill only lasts for one year. He should really read that Act. It’s not that difficult.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “The Chancellor has made clear that the earning link of the Triple Lock on pensions has been removed for one year only, due to the enormous impact of the pandemic on UK Government finances.

"This still leaves a Double Lock on pension rises – inflation or 2.5%, whichever is higher.”