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Prime Minister unable to say whether autumn benefits rise will go ahead

Liz Truss told broadcasters that the Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith would make an announcement “in due course”.

30 September 2022

The Prime Minister would not be drawn into whether benefits claimants might see a real terms cut as a cost-saving measure this autumn.

Liz Truss told broadcasters that the Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith would make an announcement “in due course” about whether benefits would be uprated in line with inflation this autumn.

It comes after reports the Treasury has asked departments across Government to make efficiency savings, or cuts, to their existing budgets following the economic turmoil caused by the mini-budget.

The move is aimed at reducing future Government borrowing after markets were spooked by the fiscal statement from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng last Friday.

Asked by broadcasters in Kent about whether the uprating would take place, Ms Truss said: “The biggest part of the package that we announced was the support for families on energy as well as making sure that we reversed the national insurance rise.

“In terms of benefits uprating, that is something the Work and Pensions Secretary is looking at and she will make an announcement in due course as is the normal practice, for the autumn.”

Pressed for more information by journalists, the Prime Minister said: “As I said this is something the Work and Pensions Secretary is looking at.

“What is important to me is that we are fair in the decisions we make, but most importantly that we help families and businesses at this very difficult time with their energy prices.

“I had real fears that businesses could go out of business this winter because they were facing unaffordable energy bills.

“We put in place a business scheme, we put in place support for households across the country. That has cost us money but it was important we acted quickly.”

Earlier this week, media reports suggested the Treasury would write to Cabinet ministers asking them to make savings within their existing departmental budgets.

When quizzed about the cuts, Treasury minister Chris Philp said: “We are going to look for efficiencies wherever we can find them.”

He added the objective of the exercise would be to make sure the Government stays within its existing three-year spending limits.

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