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Truss rules out sacking Mordaunt for speaking out over benefits rise

Prime Minister Liz Truss said no decision had yet been taken on whether benefits will be cut in real terms.

04 October 2022

Liz Truss ruled out sacking Penny Mordaunt after the Commons Leader put pressure on the Prime Minister to increase benefits in line with inflation.

Ms Mordaunt, who ran against Ms Truss for the party leadership, said she has “always supported” both pensions and welfare payments keeping pace with rising prices.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to guarantee that benefits will increase in line with September’s inflation figures, but said she would not fire Ms Mordaunt for speaking out.

After U-turning on plans to scrap the 45p tax rate for top earners after pressure from backbench MPs, the Prime Minister is now facing uproar in some quarters of her party over speculation that the Government could oversee a real-terms cuts to benefits in a bid to reduce public spending.

The Prime Minister told ITV News: “This is about a decision that we are taking later on this year.

“And of course, there’ll be more discussions about those decisions.”

Asked whether the comments by Ms Mordaunt, a serving Cabinet minister, had showed she had lost control of her Government, Ms Truss said: “We do have a very clear direction and a very clear plan.

“We’ve dealt decisively with the energy cost issue, which was the major issue four weeks ago, people aren’t talking about it, because we have dealt with that issue, given the households the reassurance they need and the businesses the reassurance they need.”

Ms Mordaunt told Times Radio: “I have always supported, whether it’s pensions, whether it’s our welfare system, keeping pace with inflation. It makes sense to do so. That’s what I voted for before and so have a lot of my colleagues.

“But we do need to look at where we can make efficiency savings, just because of the cost challenges on those departments’ budgets.”

She indicated that more detail on welfare will emerge in the “coming weeks”, adding that Ms Truss is committed to the triple lock on pensions, meaning those payments will rise in line with inflation.

“Both on welfare but also on the pension lock, for example, that we brought in, the older you are, the higher your cost of living,” Ms Mordaunt said.

“These things were brought in for a reason. The Prime Minister has been committed to that.

“Obviously, we want to make sure people are looked after, we want to make sure that people are able to pay their bills, we have a huge success story on getting people off welfare and into work.

“So we’re not about trying to help people with one hand and take it away with another.

“Just like households and businesses are facing these cost challenges, so are government departments and the services that they run. All that needs to be looked at and it will be brought forward in the proper way and the Cabinet will be involved in that.

“And you can expect to be hearing about that more in the coming weeks.”

Ms Mordaunt said the Prime Minister wants to “reset Cabinet to be what it should be”.

“She wants Cabinet to be a forum where we can really kick the tyres on policy, we can have frank discussions that aren’t then leaked. And Cabinet hasn’t really worked like that for a while.”

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