Royle Family legend Ricky Tomlinson has warned that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should keep the state pension triple lock – a guarantee that the state pension increases in line with inflation – in place, or else risk the death of “forgotten” elderly people. Ricky, 83, said it was a “disgrace” the elderly are being forced to use food banks in a first world country and demanded Downing Street protect them in Thursday’s Budget.
He said: “The least we can do is repay them the debt of gratitude that we owe them.”
The actor said he was aware that some would “die” out of pride, by refusing to ask for handouts.
He said: “I know people will die, because some of them are so proud they think they are asking for handouts and they won’t do it. They’re entitled to whatever they need. Shelter, warmth and food is not too much to ask.”
Speaking about the diminishing number of veterans appearing at remembrance day parades, Ricky said: “They’re having to remind the nation of the sacrifices they made. Some were in wheelchairs and on crutches. It makes me angry.
“They shouldn’t have to be worrying about electric and gas bills. The triple lock is a right. They paid, in a lot of cases, the ultimate price. They say lest we forget but I think we have forgotten.”
The Liverpudlian also supports Age UK’s call for the PM to ensure elderly people do not face a real terms cut to incomes.
The charity has told how elderly people are living on biscuits due to rising bills. Ricky added: “It’s appalling.
“One of the richest nations can’t feed and look after our pensioners.”
Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams added: “It’s hard to believe in 2022, we are facing a hardship among our older population of a kind we thought belonged to the past.”
The triple lock started in 2010 to make pensions rise by average earnings, prices, or 2.5%, whichever is highest.
Mr Sunak warned he could ditch the scheme after he became PM last month, which would leave millions of elderly people £472 a year worse off.
But he has hinted he would keep it. Mr Sunak said: “I understand the particular challenge of pensioners. I care very much about pensioners.”
It comes as chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been hit with a devastating new poll just days before he announces his Budget.
The poll found a staggering eight in ten older people (78%) are worried about food bills as cost of living concerns erupt.
That marks a 14 percentage point rise in older people being worried about living costs.
The exclusive new polling, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, found the biggest concern amongst over-55s was utility bills.
This year, 85 per cent of over 55’s have said they are worried about heating and energy bills, a nine per cent increase on last year.
Shortly ahead of the Autumn statement, the Lib Dems are calling for a Pensioners Charter to ensure no pensioner will go hungry or cold this winter, as well as protecting them from losing their home amid soaring mortgate rates.
The party calls for the Autumn Statement to protect the Triple Lock, giving pensioners a grant of up to £300 per month if they are unable to keep up with their mortgage.