Good morning. As my colleagues Aubrey Allegretti and Patrick Butler report in their overnight story, Liz Truss is on the brink of performing what would amount to a U-turn over uprating benefits for next year in line with inflation.
While this might not count as a technical U-turn, because Truss never explicitly said that benefits would not be uprated in line with inflation (the usual practice, and also what Boris Johnson’s government promised), she made it clear that she was seriously considering uprating in line with earnings instead, which could save the Treasury roughly £5bn.
Victoria Prentis, a Department for Work and Pensions minister, was giving interviews this morning and she gave a strong hint that Truss is backing down and giving into the demands of Tories from all wings of the party who want benefits to be uprated in line with inflation.
Prentis said that her boss, Chloe Smith, the work and pensions secretary, had to wait for earnings figures, out tomorrow, and inflation figures for September, out on 19 October, until she could make the decision about uprating benefits for 2023-24. Prentis said the decision would probably be announced before the end of November.
But, in an interview with Sky News, Prentis went on:
It’s really important that we make sure that we target the government resources at the most vulnerable.
This sounded like a clue as to the direction in which the debate in government is going. In the short time it has been in office, the Truss administration has not generally prioritised targeting government resources at the most vulnerable. Half of the tax cuts in the original mini-budget would have benefited the richest 5%.
A climbdown over benefits would be just one of several concessions to her critics coming from Truss. She has appointed a prominent Rishi Sunak supporter, Greg Hands, to a vacant ministerial post, she is planning extensive meetings with backbenchers, and she is scheduled to address the 1922 Committee this week. I will post more on these moves shortly.
Here is the agenda for the day. The Commons is still in recess, with MPs returning tomorrow.
10am: The Institute for Fiscal Studies holds a briefing on its green budget, its proposals for what should be in the next budget.
10.30am: Shona Robison, the Scottish government’s social justice secretary, Mairi Gougeon, the rural affairs secretary, and Humza Yousaf, the health secretary, take part in a panel discussion at the opening of proceedings on the final day of the SNP conference in Aberdeen.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
3.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, gives her speech at the close of the SNP conference.
And Keir Starmer is on a visit today in the East Midlands, where he will be giving interviews.
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