Liz Truss has suggested she is undecided on increasing benefits in line with inflation, as she faces a rebellion from backbench Tory MPs over the policy.
The embattled PM was probed on the issue during a BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, in wake of a testing day on Monday during which she was forced into over U-turn on the 45p tax rate.
She said her administration had to be “fiscally responsible” in implementing tax cuts, but does “reflect on where we could have done things better”.
Asked about how the government will pay for the cuts, the plans for which Kwasi Kwarteng is set to unveil “shortly”, she said: “We are going to have to make decisions about how we bring back down debt as a proportion of GDP in the medium term.”
When probed whether benefits would increase with soaring inflation, Truss insisted she was “very committed to supporting the most vulnerable. So we have to look at these issues in the round. We have to be fiscally responsible.”
On LBC this morning, she was asked why the government committed to pensions rising in line with inflation, but not benefits.
The PM insisted she committed to “protect the triple lock” for pensioners, and it’s “very difficult when you’re a pensioner to adjust your income”.
“No decision has been made yet on benefit uprating”.
She refused to be drawn on why pensioners are “more important”, saying they were in a “different situation”.
The Prime Minister is under pressure on the policy, with Tory MP Mel Stride saying it would be a “really tough call to make” as to whether benefits should be uprated in line with wages or inflation.
Former leadership contender Penny Mordaunt weighed in that she’s “always supported – whether it’s pensions, whether it’s our welfare system – keeping pace with inflation”, speaking on Times Radio.
“We want to make sure that people are looked after and that people can pay their bills. We are not about trying to help people with one hand and take away with another.”
Meanwhile former Work and Pension Secretary Damian Freen told BBC Radio 4 a freeze would “probably not” get voted through, and ex minister Michael Gove said he would need “a lot of persuading” to stop benefits increasing in line with inflation.
Esther McVey also said it would be a “huge mistake” to not raise benefits in line with inflation.
Truss is facing a rebellion on the issue as the Conservatives’ poll rating has plummeted in wake of the mini-budget.