PM set to uprate benefits by 6.7% and keep pensions triple lock, sources suggest to ITV news

The prime minister looks set to raise benefits in line with September's inflation rate of 6.7% and leave the triple lock unchanged, linking pensions to the normal earnings rate of 8.5% - if what I'm hearing in government is correct.

Conversations with folk inside government and close to it sound very positive about the shift - despite the Treasury considering changing things for April's payments - as a one off to save money.

Benefits are updated each April in line with the inflation rate the previous September.

There had been talk of linking uprating to October's lower rate of 4.6% - which would be equivalent to a £3bn cut according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

And on pensions there were worries that the earnings figure had been artificially boosted by the one off payments to health workers- during the period it is calculated for. And talk that the government could strip the impact of the payment out.

But on both fronts, I'm hearing it is unlikely the government will change the calculations.

And it makes sense - because of the chancellor's unexpected headroom. That is now leading to chat about tax cuts - but to do that while cutting support for the poorest would surely drive a negative narrative on Wednesday that the government doesn't want.

Looking ahead to the autumn statement, Mr Sunak said: “I’m not going to pre-empt the decisions that the chancellor will make, other than to say that we will approach that task seriously and responsibly.

“We can’t do everything at once, as I said. We will prioritise, we will be disciplined and our focus is very much the supply side and growing the economy."

“I promised you we would have inflation. We took the difficult decisions and we have delivered on that promise," the PM said, "so now you can trust me when I say that we can start to responsibly cut taxes".

Mr Sunak said he also wants to tackle benefits cheats.

He said it was a “national scandal” that around two million working-age people were not in employment.

“We believe in the inherent dignity of a good job, and we believe that work, not welfare is the best route out of poverty,” he said.

“Yet right now around two million people of working age are not working at all. That is a national scandal, an enormous waste of human potential.

“So we must do more to support those who can work to do so, and we will clamp down on welfare fraudsters because the system must be fair for taxpayers who fund it.”

Summarising his plan, he said: “Work for those who can, a generous safety net for those who can’t and tougher penalties for fraudsters.

“That is what a compassionate Conservative welfare system looks like.”

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