Ishi Sunak refused to rule out real cuts to benefits amid suggestions the move could be taken to free up money for tax cuts before the next general election.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is reportedly considering breaching customs by failing to raise benefits in line with inflation in his autumn financial report.
The move would spark accusations that the government is targeting some of the most vulnerable to cut taxes amid a cost-of-living crisis.
And it would be particularly controversial if ministers also maintained the “triple lock” on pensions, increasing these payments in line with rising prices or earnings.
Mr Sunak declined to “speculate” on the contents of the Chancellor’s November 22 statement when asked whether he could guarantee benefits would rise with inflation.
At the G20 summit in New Delhi, broadcasters were told there was a legal process “that goes through every year to increase benefits and do a whole range of other things”.
“And these decisions will be announced at the autumn statement, that is completely normal,” he said.
As the Prime Minister sought to “reassure” those struggling with the cost of living, he pointed to additional support already provided to help with energy payments and other bills.
“So people should be reassured that this additional support is in place for the most vulnerable in our society at a time that I know is difficult and that is why we need to bring inflation down,” he said.
“That’s why my first of my five priorities is to halve inflation. This is the best way to help everyone with living expenses.”
Benefits typically increase in line with the September consumer price index for inflation.
However, Mr Hunt could reportedly indicate that inflation will be significantly lower in April when the payment increase comes into effect.
https://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/sunak-declines-to-rule-out-realterms-benefits-cut-b1105958.html Sunak refuses to rule out cuts to real benefits