The pensions triple lock, which protects increases in the UK’s state pension, should be scrapped following the coronavirus crisis, a thinktank suggests.

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has called on the government to replace the system, which guarantees the basic state pension will rise annually by a minimum of either 2.5 per cent, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth (whichever is largest).

The SMF suggests a more affordable and fairer alternative needs to be introduced to help reduce the deficit that will be an inevitable consequence of the current crisis.

Scott Corfe, research director at SMF, said: “There is a clear case for intergenerational reciprocation when it comes to meeting the fiscal costs of the crisis – something that could be a feature of the policy landscape for years to come.“

Mr Corfe added that one possible solution might be a “double lock”, which would tie increases to earnings or inflation (whichever is higher).

He said: “This could contribute £20bn to deficit reduction over the next five years. Pensions would still rise, but less quickly, reducing the fiscal burden on the working-age population.

“In the context of an annual deficit that could reach £200bn as we emerge from the crisis, this is not too much to ask. It would also demonstrate reciprocity from a group whose wellbeing was, rightly, prioritised during the lockdown phase of the crisis.”

He added: “This current economic sacrifice is the right thing to do, not least given the social contract between generations: members of a good society look out for each other and are prepared to sacrifice some welfare for others.

“As we emerge from the crisis, older generations must uphold their part of the contract by bearing a fair proportion of future tax rises and welfare reforms.”