There has been much talk recently as to whether the government will be keeping the triple lock on pensions going forward.

The triple lock was introduced by the Coalition Government. It ensures that the state pension rises each year by the greater of average wage growth, inflation or 2.5%.

The rise was over 10% last year, with 8.5% predicted this year in line with wage growth.

The triple lock was created to counter the pensioner poverty that had risen to 28% at turn of the century. The level is now 15% - still, well above countries, like France (4.4%) and Germany (9.2%).

These other countries devote more of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to pensions. In France, 11.7% of GDP goes to the state pension. 11.5% in Italy. In the UK, just 4.7% of GDP goes on the state pension.

The cry has been that the triple lock can no longer be afforded. The debate is very unhelpfully framed in the context of intergenerational conflict. The debate being that if the elderly get a decent pension, the young suffer.

This is totally wrong. The elderly are entitled to a decent state pension. They have contributed into the system for 35 years plus to receive a secure, decent pension. It is a right, not a privilege.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan says that pensions are a right and not privilegePaul Donovan says that pensions are a right and not privilege

The argument should be about how things can be improved for all generations. How the overall cake can be split more fairly creating inter-generational solidarity.

How can the appalling inequalities in this country be countered?

Maybe the rich, old and young, need to pay more. What of the companies that use the educated workforce, then take their profits offshore. Could they not pay more tax?

The debate should be about how the overall pot can be increased, not how the present diminishing take is split.

Maybe a Universal Basic Income for everyone should be considered to level things up.

What is certain is that the triple lock must remain. It is not excessively expensive but the least a civilised society can do for its population.

Let's also remember that life expectancy in the UK is in decline, in marked contrast to other European countries. 

Politicians will be loath to cut pensions, not least because older people are more likely to vote.

Nor does it look good, given the gold-plated pensions that MPs award themselves.

What is needed is to build on the triple lock to ensure pensioner security. Promote intergenerational solidarity, making sure that everyone gets a fairer deal.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and blogger (