Amber Rudd urges next Prime Minister to end benefit freeze even if no-deal Brexit happens
Amber Rudd has called on the next Prime Minister to end the benefits freeze even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said it was “essential” for the Government to end its pause on working age benefits when it comes up for review next year regardless of whether or not the the UK has left the European Union with a deal.
The freeze on working-age benefits was brought in under former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne in 2016.
The Government rejected calls to axe the policy in this year's Spring Statement, despite campaigners saying such a move could lift thousands out of poverty.
Meanwhile expectations that ministers could end the freeze next year have been thrown into doubt after Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that a no-deal Brexit could blow a £90bn black hole in the UK's public finances.
But Ms Rudd said she would make a “strong case” for the next government to find the estimated £1.5bn needed to lift working age benefits in line with inflation.
“I would expect that to happen whatever the situation because it needs to happen," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr.
"I’ve already had conversations with the Chancellor and I would expect to do so with any future government. It is essential we take that freeze off.”
She added: “It is not for me to guarantee, I am not the Chancellor, but I will certainly guarantee that I will be making a very strong case for it whatever role I may or may not be playing.”
NO-DEAL 'BAD FOR THE ECONOMY'
The comments come after Ms Rudd, who is backing Jeremy Hunt for the Conservatie leadership, was accused of u-turning on her opposition to a no-deal Brexit.
The Work and Pensions Secretary has argued strongly against leaving the EU without a deal during her time in Theresa May's Cabinet.
But she last week said she had accepted such an outcome must be "part of the armoury" for the next Prime Minister.
She told Andrew Marr on Sunday: "I still believe no-deal would be bad for the economy, bad for security and bad for the Union.
"So one of the good things is that both candidates have committed to trying to get a deal. But I have accepted that we have to allow no-deal to be part of the leverage to make sure people compromise more."