Daily Mirror


Tories plot benefits grab to cut tax for rich

- BY JOHN STEVENS Political Editor john.stevens@mirror.co.uk @johnesteve­ns

TORY ministers will snatch millions of pounds from their own constituen­ts if Jeremy Hunt goes ahead with a threatened raid on Universal Credit.

The Chancellor wants to slash the amounts given to ordinary families to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Cabinet ministers have more than 125,000 Universal Credit claimants in their constituen­cies.

They stand to miss out on £23.7million if Mr Hunt fiddles the figures to save money in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

Universal Credit payments are due to increase next April by 6.7%, the inflation figure from this September.

But to pay for bungs for the rich, the Chancellor is thinking about using the lower October inflation figure of 4.6%.

This would mean low income families would lose hundreds of pounds.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves yesterday called on Mr Hunt not to lower the planned rise.

The 3,800 Universal Credit claimants in the Chancellor’s South West Surrey constituen­cy would miss out on an average of £199 each next year if he uses the lower inflation figure. Targeting families on Universal Credit will potentiall­y make it even more difficult for Tory ministers to cling on to their seats. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has a majority of just 981 in Cheltenham, Glos, compared to 6,300 benefits claimants in his patch. Mr Hunt told Times Radio yesterday: “I want to show people there’s a path to lower taxes.”

Ms Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, warned: “If you pick and choose from year to year which inflation number is the cheapest thing to do, then what you see is the gradual erosion of people’s incomes.”

Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoma­n Sarah Olney said: “This out-of-touch government has proven it doesn’t care about those struggling the most with the cost of living crisis.”

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LOSS LEADERS Steve Barclay and Penny Mordaunt

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