Failing to commit to retaining the triple lock could cost the Conservative Party more than a third of votes from people aged 55 and over, a survey has revealed.
The state pension protection is considered at risk as the nation heads towards the snap general election on 8 June, with prime minister Theresa May last week not committing to the triple lock when questioned on it.
The Tory government had committed itself to retaining the triple lock until the planned end of parliament in 2020. However, the snap election, called last week, could allow the party to end the promise earlier than anticipated.
In contrast, the Labour party earlier this month pledged to keep the protection - which guarantees annual increases of the highest of inflation, average earnings, or 2.5% - until at least 2025.
Now, 34.2% of 1,000 aged 55 and over have said they would be less likely to vote for the Tories if the triple lock were at risk, according to an Old Mutual Wealth flash poll last week.
The finding could be particularly worrying for the party as the over-55s are a core constituent of its votes, and are also the most likely to turn out for a general election. At the 2015 vote, 77% of those aged between 55 and 64 had their say, while 78% of over-68s also voted.
Old Mutual Wealth pensions expert Jon Greer said the importance of this age group could see parties ignoring the potential future costs of the protection.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has predicted the state pension may cost the nation 6.2% of GDP by the 2036/37 financial year, up from 5.2% this year.
"The issue of the triple lock has now become not just a key long-term decision but a crucial election battleground, with all parties under pressure to set out when they think we should be able to retire and how they plan to create an economy that supports longer working lives," he said.
"As society ages, with more people reaching retirement age leaning on a smaller proportion of the population that are of working age, costs will become a significant burden. Any party that refuses to address the political hot-potato of the state pension could be accused of kicking the can down the road. However, the power of the grey vote may mean politics rules over reason."
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