Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Is the pension triple lock finished? Rishi Sunak makes new bid to balance budgets

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The Chancellor is also said to be considering a public sector pay freeze, though NHS workers may be exempt, and a freeze on benefits. Britain’s economy shrunk by 20.4 percent between April and June as COVID-19 forced the country into lockdown.

This came on top of a 2.2 percent economic reduction in the first three months of the year.

As COVID-19 cases surge again new restrictions have been placed on around 20 percent of the population whilst there are renewed fears of a second national lockdown.

According to the Mail on Sunday Mr Sunak is examining a benefits and public sector pay freeze to help reduce the damage.

The paper reports he is also trying to persuade Boris Johnson to end the ‘triple lock’ protection on pensions.

Under the triple lock pensions increase each year in line with either average earnings growth, average price growth or 2.5 percent, whichever is highest.

With unemployment expected to rocket as the coronavirus furlough scheme is wound down there are fears this is no longer affordable.

By one estimate the number of unemployed could rise to 4.5million in 2021.

However ending the triple lock on pensions would be a clear violation of the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday a minister said: “Rishi has been absolutely adamant in private that he will have to be able to balance the books after this is all finally over.

“Hospitals and schools will be protected, but something has to give somewhere.”

From 28 September it will be illegal for people to fail to self-isolate if they are diagnosed with coronavirus, or traced as a contact of someone who is, in England.

Those who violate this law will be fined £1,000, increasing for each offence up to a maximum of £10,000.

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However one-off payments of £500 will be provided for those required to self-isolate who are unable to continue working from home.

The number of coronavirus cases diagnosed has been surging over the past week.

On Saturday another 4,422 cases were reported along with 27 deaths.

Mr Johnson said: “So nobody underestimates just how important this is, new regulations will mean you are legally obliged to do so if you have the virus or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

“People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines.

“We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives.”

The coronavirus fatality rate is dramatically higher for the elderly than the young.

New COVID-19 restrictions have been imposed on 13.5 million people, one in five of the population, across the UK.

Areas affected include north-west England, the Midlands and West Yorkshire.

There are fears additional national restrictions will be required if new measures, including the ban on socialising in groups of more than six in England, fail to bring the virus under control.

 

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