Government looks for more benefit cuts as disability support hard to uprate to match inflation

Liz Truss' government is looking for benefit cuts. Credit: PA

Liz Truss will not be able to uprate all benefits by inflation quickly and so her government is looking to other benefit cuts to make up the desired savings, ITV News understands.

One of the issues the government is facing is that they want to focus on changes they can make quickly and without primarily legislation, but that prevents them from raising the £5 billion that has previously been mooted.

I'm told that uprating some benefits - such as universal credit and employment and support allowance - is more achievable at speed, because it only requires secondary legislation through what is known as an SI (statutory instrument).

That only takes 28 days to enact and, while it certainly can trigger a vote and rebellion, there are reasons why it is harder for the opposition and Tory rebels to bring down.

I'll come to that, but first let me point to the benefits that do have to be uprated by inflation - by law.

Benefits like personal independence payments and incapacity benefits for disabled people.

Changing them would require primary legislation. That would mean full votes and amendments in both houses of Parliament.

It would be hugely contentious and take a long time.

And that's why, as I understand it, officials are looking for other savings including, as we know, the idea of bringing forward when the state pension age rises to 67 and then 68.

On the first benefits, including universal credit, the government is actually under no obligation to uprate them at all and any uprating requires an SI. So they can bring that forward linked to earnings rather than inflation.

The opposition can "pray against" an SI and force a vote. However, the risk they run (though it would be politically toxic for the government) is that would technically mean benefits don't uprate at all unless the government brings forward another SI.

It's all quite complicated and I'd recommend this thread from Christopher James who was deputy director for parliament and legislative affairs in Downing Street until recently.

But the biggest point is that, while the government will face a battle either way, they currently think they should stick to the smaller number of benefits.

And that means other cuts to come.