Fewer than nine weeks separate us from the 2015 General Election. Commentators are currently predicting a hung parliament with each of the two main parties trading a gossamer-thin lead in the polls, meaning it is all to play for as the politicians hit the campaign trail hard. Beyond the headline- grabbing policies on the likes of the economy, immigration and healthcare, pensions should once again prove to be an important election issue.
While party manifestos are not expected to be published until early April, statements on pension policy have begun to trickle out. In an indicator that securing the grey vote is a key step on the road to Downing Street, David Cameron has described guaranteeing the “triple-lock” increase to state pensions for the life of the next parliament as the “first plank” of his party’s manifesto. This popular policy is mirrored by coalition partners the Liberal Democrats and supported “in principle” by Labour.
Other issues to look out for will include Labour’s headline-grabbing announcement that it will reduce both the lifetime allowance (from £1.25 million to £1million) and the annual allowance (from £40,000 to £30,000) in order to fund a cut in tuition fees. Labour has also confirmed its previously announced policy that individuals with incomes over £150,000 will get tax relief at 20%, the same rate as basic rate taxpayers. The Liberal Democrats also propose to introduce a single rate of tax relief for pensions.
Of course Scottish issues will remain high on the political agenda in the aftermath of last September’s referendum with Labour already promising state pension raising powers to Holyrood, should they be sitting on the government benches come May.
As election day gets nearer we will be monitoring pension promises and providing you with updates in future publications.