Chancellor set to introduce tougher rules on benefits
Tougher rules on benefits and a boost to the national living wage will form part of a Tory plan to get more people into work, Jeremy Hunt will say.
The Chancellor will use his speech at the Conservative Party conference to promise the national living wage will increase to at least £11 an hour from April.
But alongside that he will look again at the benefit sanctions regime to make it harder for people to claim welfare while refusing to take “active steps” to move into work, with proposals due to be set out in November’s Autumn Statement.
The plans to make work pay come as the Tory party is embroiled in a row over tax policy, with Cabinet minister Michael Gove pushing for cuts before the election to help working households.
Mr Hunt has insisted that tax cuts in the Autumn Statement are unlikely, with the focus on reducing inflation, but the Tories are likely to have a full Budget in the spring before any election in 2024 which could provide an opportunity for a giveaway to woo voters.
In other developments at the Manchester conference:
– Education Secretary Gillian Keegan will set out plans to ban mobile phones from classrooms in England, with a source telling the Daily Mail she believes the devices “pose a serious challenge in terms of distraction, disruptive behaviour and bullying”.
– Former prime minister Liz Truss will call for tax cuts, fracking and measures to boost housebuilding in a bid to put pressure on Rishi Sunak from the Tory right.
– Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, seen as a potential successor to Mr Sunak, will use her conference speech to stress her Brexiteer credentials and accuse critics of seeking to talk down the UK.
The main speech at the conference will be from Mr Hunt, who will confirm plans to boost the wages of the lowest paid on the second day of the Manchester gathering.
The Conservatives said the move will benefit two million people and follows the target for the national living wage to reach two-thirds of median hourly pay by October next year.
The Low Pay Commission estimates the rate required to meet that goal should be between £10.90 and £11.43, with a central estimate of £11.16.
The increase will mean the national living wage will increase by over £1,000 for a full-time worker next year.