Theme: Public Policy | Content Type: Journal article

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Unlocking the Pensions Debate: The Origins and Future of the ‘Triple Lock’

Jonathan Portes


Andre Taissin

| 1 min read

The ‘triple lock’ mechanism governing the uprating of state pensions is often framed as a transfer from workers to mostly well-off pensioners, driven by the latter's outsize political influence. Others note that pensioner poverty remains widespread and that the UK state pension remains relatively low compared to other advanced economies. Both perspectives—but especially the first—often omit the historical context and, particularly, the post-1979 steady fall in the value of the state pension as a proportion of earnings and the resulting increasing dependence on means-tested benefits. The key insight of the Turner report was that failure to reverse this trend would further erode any incentive to save for lower- and middle-income earners. Reforms that solely focus on the short-term impacts on current pensioners, rich and poor, risk long-term damage.

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    Jonathan Portes

    Jonathan Portes is Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Department of Political Economy, King's College London.

    Articles by Jonathan Portes
Volume 95, Issue 1

Latest Journal Issue

Volume 95, Issue 1

Includes a collection on the Future of Public Service Broadcasting, edited by Suzanne Franks and Jean Seaton. This features articles such as 'The Governance of the BBC' by Diane Coyle; 'A Public Service Internet - Reclaiming the Public Service Mission' by Helen Jay; and 'BBC Funding: Much Ado about the Cost of a Coffee a Week' by Patrick Barwise. There are a wide range of other articles including 'Back to the Stone Age: Europe's Mainstream Right and Climate Change’ by Mitya Pearson and 'Labour, the Unions and Proportional Representation' by Cameron Rhys Herbert. Finally, there is a selection of book reviews such as Lyndsey Jenkins's review of Fighting For Life: The Twelve Battles that Made Our NHS and the Struggle for Its Future by Isabel Hardman, and Victoria Brittain's review of Three Worlds, Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by Avi Shlaim.

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