UK’s Sunak proposes tax cuts for pensioners in new election pledge

By Thomson Reuters May 27, 2024 | 4:35 PM

(Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday proposed tax cuts for millions of pensioners in his latest campaign pledge, highlighting the importance of older voters in the upcoming July election.

Sunak’s Conservative Party said it would introduce a new age-related allowance and deliver a tax cut of around 100 pounds ($128) for each of 8 million pensioners in 2025, rising to almost 300 pounds a year by the end of the next parliament.

“This bold action demonstrates we are on the side of pensioners. The alternative is Labour dragging everyone in receipt of the full state pension into income tax for the first time in history,” Sunak, who last week called a general election for July 4, said in the statement.

The number of pensioners in Britain rose by 140,000 to 12.6 million in the year to February 2023. Close to 50 million Britons will be eligible to vote in the election, which opinion polls predict is likely to end 14 years of Conservative rule in the country.

The Conservative Party said the proposal comes alongside the its commitment to the so-called triple lock, which guarantees increases to publicly funded pensions by the level of earnings, inflation or 2.5%, whichever is highest.

Labour has also committed to retain the policy, which was introduced by a Conservative government in 2011 to prevent pensioners from falling into poverty.

However, costs associated with it have come under increased scrutiny in recent years after British inflation soared, pushing up the government bill for state pensions by an additional 11 billion pounds last year.

The new proposal, which the party termed “triple lock plus,” will cost 2.4 billion pounds a year by 2029/30 and be funded through the government’s previously announced plan to raise an extra 6 billion pounds a year by clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion, the party said.

“This is just another desperate move from a chaotic Tory party torching any remaining facade of its claims to economic credibility,” Labour shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth said in a statement on the plans.

The paymaster general falls under the Treasury and acts as a banker for most government departments.

($1 = 0.7831 pound)

(Reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Jonathan Oatis)