Liz Truss has previously suggested that universal benefits, such as the state pension, should be scrapped because of the “huge cost” for taxpayers to “recycle” their money through the system — raising fears she could go even further with her plans to to lower the benefit account.
The proposal, included in its motion to the Liberal Democrat Youth Conference in the spring of 1995, emphasized the “massive — and rising — costs of pensions and child support” and called for a “search for realistic alternatives to universal benefits.”
Truss, who left the party the following year to join the Conservativeshad added that it was “socially undesirable to pay universal benefits in the current way” given the “huge cost to taxpayers of recycling money through the tax system”.
Child support was abolished in 2013 for higher rate taxpayers, but remains universal for some families earning below the £50,000 threshold and ineligible for universal credit. All elderly people are eligible for state pension and winter fuel surcharge.
There is no suggestion that Truss plans to cut both benefits, but her previous stances may be of concern as she pledged to curtail the benefits system during her leadership campaign and has already announced plans to cut benefits in working age and for “efficiency savings” around the world. all government services.
Wendy Chamberlain, spokesperson for the Lib Dem pensions, said: “We see the true nature of this government. It’s no surprise that Liz Truss refuses to provide aid to those who need it most, as she has long wanted to cut state pensions and child support.
“The Conservative government could no longer be out of touch with the British people. While inflation is skyrocketing, interest rates are rising and credit is rising, they would rather give tax cuts to banks, corporations and billionaires than guarantee support to struggling families and retirees.”
A spokesman for No. 10 said: “The views of the Prime Minister are not the same as they were 27 years ago.” However, Truss continues to argue that taxpayers’ money should not be “recycled” — or collected by the state and then returned to them.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor, has already announced plans to cut benefits to bring more people into the labor market, saying this was part of the government’s plan to “make work pay” by not just letting people trust on social assistance as their main form of income.
However, the controversial plan has drawn widespread criticism for ignoring people who are unemployed due to illness or disability, while unpaid carers, part-time workers and single parents could be unfairly affected by benefits.
Chris Philp, the chief secretary of the Treasury, said the government had not yet decided whether to increase benefits in line with inflation, despite Rishi Sunak promising to do so when he was chancellor. Philp defended abolishing the 45p income tax rate, despite saying it was “true” that it benefited the rich more than the bad guys.
During a visit to Darlington, Kwarteng said it was “premature” to confirm whether benefits would increase to match inflation. “We’re talking about helping people in the round. It is premature for me to make a decision on that. But we are absolutely focused on making sure the most vulnerable in our society are protected in what could be a challenging time,” he said.
Meanwhile, government departments have been asked to look for “efficiency savings” and told to live within the budget constraints of the current spending review, sparking speculation about a return to austerity.
Philippa Stroud, a Tory colleague who helped create and launch universal credit, said of the government’s refusal to confirm a rise in inflation: “It’s disturbing, as the previous chancellor had clearly already committed to this upgrade. Just the fact that he’s reconsidering, or not committing to it, makes me feel like this is really the case.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity that conducts and funds research aimed at solving poverty in the UK, said it was “shocking” that the government would not increase benefits through inflation. Iain Porter, a senior policy advisor, said: “Many people in the UK would agree that it is morally indefensible for the Prime Minister to choose to give tax cuts to the richest, funded on the backs of the poorest in our society. “
James Taylor, director of strategy at the Disability Equality charity Scope, said: “If the government delivers on this promise, it would be devastating and lead to people with disabilities starving and freezing in their own homes. Refusing to increase benefits in line with actual inflation would be a total disregard for those in need of this support.”
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Children are already starving while costs are rising. Unless benefits are raised to match inflation, they will also fall victim to a collapsing economy. Struggling families will not forgive a chancellor who comes to them for efficiency savings when their closets are already empty.”