Tory Cabinet Splits Erupt As Minister Warns Chancellor Against Cutting Benefits

A senior Tory minister has warned chancellor Jeremy Hunt not to cut benefits in real terms in order to pay for tax cuts ahead of the next election.

In a sign of cabinet splits over the issue, justice secretary Alex Chalk said the government must “ensure, that we are decent, humane and that we support people”.

Hunt is reportedly looking at ways in which welfare payments can be increased by less than normal in a bid to raise billions of pounds.

At the moment, benefits increase by the rate of inflation – which led to them going up by 10.1% this year.

However, according to Bloomberg, the Treasury is considering putting benefits up by less than inflation next year.

Asked on Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky NewsA this morning whether he would support such a move, Chalk made clear he would be opposed.

“We must do everything we can for the most disadvantaged in society,” he said.

“That’s why we put up benefits by 10.1% and universal credit and also the pension as well.

“I will want to ensure, my colleagues will want to ensure, that we are decent, humane and that we support people.”

Phillips said: “I’m taking that as a no.”

Laughing, Chalk replied: “Take it as you like.”

Former prime minister Liz Truss was hit by a furious backlash from Tory MPs – including senior ministers – when she considered increasing benefits by less than inflation.

An ally of the former prime minister said: “This was very much part of Liz’s plan to kick-start economic growth last year: she wanted to raise benefits in line with wages, not inflation – a move that was calculated as likely to cut at least £6 billion off the benefits bill.

“Yet a significant minority of her parliamentary colleagues refused to go along with it, including a number of people holding senior roles in the current cabinet.”

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