In a significant intervention, the Leader of the House of Commons backed increasing welfare payments to keep pace with soaring inflation.
04 October 2022
Liz Truss has been told by a member of her Cabinet that it “makes sense” for benefits payments to rise in line with inflation.
Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the House of Commons and a former Conservative Party leadership contender, told Times Radio that she has “always supported” both pensions and welfare support rising alongside inflation.
After U-turning on plans to scrap the 45p tax rate for top earners after pressure from backbench MPs, the Prime Minister is now facing uproar in some quarters of her party over speculation that the Government could oversee a real-terms cuts to benefits in a bid to reduce public spending.
Ms Truss and her Cabinet allies have so far declined to say whether welfare payments will be increased in line with soaring inflation, prompting concerns from some senior ex-ministers and backbenchers amid a fractious Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
In an intervention that will put further pressure on the Prime Minister, Ms Mordaunt said: “I have always supported, whether it’s pensions, whether it’s our welfare system, keeping pace with inflation. It makes sense to do so. That’s what I voted for before and so have a lot of my colleagues.
“But we do need to look at where we can make efficiency savings, just because of the cost challenges on those departments’ budgets.”
She indicated that more detail on welfare will emerge in the “coming weeks”, adding that Ms Truss is committed to the triple lock on pensions to safeguard payments against inflation.
“Both on welfare but also on the pension lock, for example, that we brought in, the older you are, the higher your cost of living,” Ms Mordaunt said.
“These things were brought in for a reason. The Prime Minister has been committed to that.
“Obviously, we want to make sure people are looked after, we want to make sure that people are able to pay their bills, we have a huge success story on getting people off welfare and into work.
“So we’re not about trying to help people with one hand and take it away with another.
“Just like households and businesses are facing these cost challenges, so are government departments and the services that they run. All that needs to be looked at and it will be brought forward in the proper way and the Cabinet will be involved in that.
“And you can expect to be hearing about that more in the coming weeks.”
Ms Mordaunt said the Prime Minister wants to “reset Cabinet to be what it should be”.
“She wants Cabinet to be a forum where we can really kick the tyres on policy, we can have frank discussions that aren’t then leaked. And Cabinet hasn’t really worked like that for a while.”