David Cameron has fired the starting gun for the next general election by promising a cash boost to taxpayers and the elderly.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Conservative leader has pledged to raise pensions by a minimum of 2.5% each year up to 2020.
He also said he wanted to cut the top rate of income tax.
The Prime Minister pledged to continue guaranteed rises in the basic state pension by retaining the “triple lock” system if the Conservatives win the 2015 general election.
Mr Cameron also sought to reassure older voters that their pay-outs would continue to rise in line with the higher of inflation, wages or 2.5% at least until 2020.
Pensioners are facing a post-election squeeze on benefits such as winter fuel payments, bus passes, TV licences and prescriptions as MPs try to provide for an ageing population.
But Mr Cameron insisted that pensions would not be hit by continued austerity measures.
“A Conservative government will offer pensioners a more secure future by pledging today that we will carry on using the triple lock after the next election to protect the basic state pension,” he said.
“We can only afford to do this because we are taking difficult decisions to cut the deficit and get spending under control as part of our long-term economic plan.”
“I want to do everything we can to help people who have worked hard and done the right thing.”
The basic state pension will be around £440 a year higher from April than if it had been increased in line with average earnings since 2011-12, Downing Street said.
Mr Cameron has already indicated that the state pension would be the only spending exempt from a new cap on overall welfare spending.
The Sunday Times interview comes as a poll carried out by Lord Ashcroft reveals more than a third of people who voted Conservative in the last General Election say they would not vote for the party in the next election.
The former Tory Party deputy chairman’s findings revealed around half of the ‘defectors’ had switched allegiance to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), with a fifth aligning themselves with Labour or the Lib Dems and a third undecided.
Mr Cameron has also come under renewed pressure to commit to a head-to-head TV debate with Alex Salmond over the referendum on Scottish independence.
The PM has steadfastly refused Mr Salmond’s challenge but an SNP poll found over three-fifths of people in Scotland and over half of people in the rest of the UK want to see a public debate.
In a new letter to Number 10, Mr Salmond told Mr Cameron that his New Year plea to Scots to stay in the UK undermined this argument.