Chancellor toughens rules on benefits as he announces Civil Service freeze | Politics News

Jeremy Hunt additionally confirms the nationwide residing wage will rise as he makes his speech to get together convention.

By Tim Baker, Political reporter

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has reiterated the federal government’s commitments to make benefits sanctions harsher – whereas additionally committing to elevating the nationwide residing wage above £11 an hour.

In his speech to the Conservative Party convention in Manchester, the senior minister additionally revealed a plan to avoid wasting £1bn by freezing the growth of the Civil Service and decreasing the extent of staffing to pre-pandemic ranges.

Mr Hunt‘s intervention comes round six weeks forward of his autumn monetary assertion.

While not as tumultuous as his predecessor’s get together convention speech final 12 months – the place Kwasi Kwarteng needed to admit his get together was U-turning on a key a part of his mini-budget – Mr Hunt remains to be underneath stress.

Tory convention reside: Party chair makes admission about subsequent election

Many voices inside the Conservative Party need him to chop taxes, together with cupboard ministers.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove stated he would “like to see the tax burden reduced by the next election”.

Mr Hunt on Saturday stated the federal government was “not in a position to talk about tax cuts at all” – however all bets are off in relation to get together conferences.

The authorities has been eyeing welfare adjustments as a method to lower down on spending, and likewise encouraging individuals again into work in a bid to develop the economic system.

The chancellor will tackle convention immediately

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Mr Hunt informed the get together membership in Manchester: “Since the pandemic, issues have been going within the fallacious path. Whilst corporations battle to seek out staff, round 100,000 individuals are leaving the labour pressure yearly for a life on benefits.

“As a part of that, we’ll take a look at the best way the sanctions regime works. It is a basic matter of equity. Those who will not even search for work don’t deserve the identical benefits as individuals making an attempt onerous to do the precise factor.”

Read extra:
Gove requires tax cuts forward of subsequent election

Sunak and Johnson overseen largest tax rises since WW2

Government divided over tax

The chancellor additionally introduced that Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride would look once more on the profit sanctions regime to make it tougher for individuals to assert benefits whereas refusing to take energetic steps to maneuver into work.

And a spokesman confirmed the proposals can be set out within the upcoming autumn assertion.

Speaking final month, Mr Stride stated that he was consulting on adjustments to the Work Capability Assessment, the check geared toward establishing how a lot a incapacity or sickness limits somebody’s potential to work.

Tories tight-lipped on tax lower prospects

Mr Hunt additionally confirmed a brand new coverage that might search individuals searching for new jobs, with a freeze on the variety of civil servants.

“We have the best civil servants in the world – and they saved many lives in the pandemic by working night and day,” stated the chancellor. “But even after that pandemic is over, we nonetheless have 66,000 extra civil servants than earlier than.

“New insurance policies mustn’t all the time imply new individuals. So immediately I’m freezing the growth of the civil service and putting in a plan to scale back its numbers to pre-pandemic ranges. This will save £1bn subsequent 12 months.

“And I won’t lift the freeze until we have a proper plan not just for the civil service but for all public sector productivity improvements.”

But the transfer was criticised by the Public and Commercial Services union normal secretary, Mark Serwotka, who stated: “Thirty seconds after praising civil servants for his or her work in the course of the pandemic, Jeremy Hunt introduced a freeze on recruitment.

“Shrinking an already-overstretched and under-resourced civil service will inevitably end in cuts to important providers that folks rely on.”

He added: “As normal, a Conservative authorities is searching for accountable working individuals for the incompetence of their very own ministers.”

Raising the residing wage

On the nationwide residing wage, Mr Hunt stated the federal government was going to just accept the Low Pay Commission’s suggestion to lift the baseline to at the very least £11 an hour from April 2024.

Resisting sizeable pay will increase within the public sector has been a part of the federal government’s technique to preserve spending and inflation underneath management.

Mr Hunt stated: “Since we launched the nationwide residing wage, almost two million individuals have been lifted from absolute poverty. That’s the Conservative method of bettering the lives of working individuals. Boosting pay, reducing tax.”

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Ahead of the speech, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, stated: “I’ve all the time made it clear that tough work ought to pay, and immediately we’re offering a well-earned pay rise to tens of millions of individuals throughout the nation.

“This means a full-time employee will obtain a rise of over £1,000 to their annual earnings, placing more cash within the pockets of the bottom paid.

“We’re sending a transparent message to hard-working taxpayers throughout the nation; our Conservative authorities is on your aspect”.

Hunt struggles to be heard above tax lower hollers

The chancellor’s speech normally units the agenda at convention, however immediately, Jeremy Hut was taking part in catch up.

He’s been struggling to be heard among the many clamour inside his get together for tax cuts.

Today he tried to regain management of the narrative – mainly that bringing down inflation is the “best tax cut” the federal government may give to the general public.

“We’re getting there,” he stated. “The plan is working and now we must see it through – just as Margaret Thatcher did many years ago.”

It was a rebuke to members of his personal get together as a lot as it was to Labour, as simply hours earlier, former prime minister Liz Truss was main the cost on the problem.

Speaking at a packed fringe occasion, she stated that tax cuts had been the important thing to creating the Tories “the party of business again” and “unlocking economic growth”.

And she urged the federal government to chop company tax to 19% on the autumn assertion.

But throughout his look, the chancellor warned that whereas it was simple to assist a excessive progress and low tax economic system, it was “harder to make it happen”.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Liz Kendall, stated her get together “believes in responsibility – that those who can work, should look for work and take jobs when they are offered”.

But she stated the federal government additionally had “a responsibility to create real opportunities and not write people off”, including: “This is one thing the Tories have totally didn’t ship.

“We now have document numbers of individuals out of labor attributable to long-term illness, which is costing taxpayers an additional £15bn a 12 months simply because the pandemic.

“[Labour] will tackle the root causes of economic inactivity by driving down NHS waiting lists, reforming social security, making work pay, and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country. Real opportunities matched by the responsibility to take them up – because that’s what fairness is all about.”

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