Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May vows pensions will rise, but fails to rule out ditching triple lock

Theresa May has again refused to rule out ditching the pension triple lock as the inflation rate it is linked to hit its highest level in four years.

The guarantee means payments increase by the same as average earnings, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or 2.5%, whichever is the highest.

Official figures put CPI on 2.7% in April, higher than the expected 2.6%.

Mrs May said the cost of living had gone up and admitted there would be uncertainty over the next two years as Britain quits the European Union.

Quizzed by workers at the Screwfix distribution centre in Stoke-on-Trent about rising living costs, Mrs May said: "We are seeing inflation, obviously, has gone up slightly as the impact of what's happened to the currency, it's partly about that.

"But there are things that we can do, like on energy prices.

"There is an impact in relation to the price of food. What we need to do is to make sure we get that Brexit deal right.

"There will be some uncertainty for business and people over the next couple of years as we are doing that negotiation but what we need to do is make sure that we get that negotiation right so we get the best possible deal.

"Our future and what our cost of living is in the future depends on us being able to do that and have a really good economy."

Jeremy Corbyn launched Labour's manifesto with a promise to maintain the triple-lock on pensions.

Mrs May insisted pensions would "continue to go up" under the Conservatives.

She said: "I've been very clear that pensions will continue to rise under a Conservative government.

"How we calculate that will be set out in our manifesto.

"What we have seen over the last few years is an increase in pensioners' income, through the basic state pension.

"If you remember under Labour we had one year when the rise was 75p.

"The rise in basic state pension is now equal to £1,250 a year. So a significant improvement there for pension and pensions will continue to go up under a Conservative government."