Thursday, November 21, 2019
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Amber Rudd breaks camp and calls on next PM to end the benefit freeze

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has implored the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister to commit to ending the freeze to working age benefits.

The controversial benefit freeze, which limits rises to working age benefits to just 1% per year, has been in place for four years.

Critics argue the policy is pushing a growing number of households into poverty, and fueling the rise the food bank use.

The policy is currently expected to end in 2020, but with a new Tory leader and Prime Minister expected within weeks the end of the cruel policy has been thrown into doubt.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Amber Rudd said it was “essential” that the next PM upheld the current Tory policy to end the benefit freeze next year.

A near empty food cupboard. Photo: Oxfam.

There is no guarantee that Theresa May’s successor, whether that be the favourite Boris Johnson or the underdog Jeremy Hunt, will stand by the curent policy decision.

And there is certainly no guarantee that Amber Rudd will remain in her role as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Ms Rudd told the Andrew Marr that she would make a “strong case” for the next government to end the benefit freeze, which has been forecast to cost the treasury £1.5bn, and ensure that future benefit increases fall inline with inflation.

“I would expect that to happen whatever the situation because it needs to happen”, she said – even if there is a no deal Brexit.

“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 said.

However, 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.”

It comes soon after Ms Rudd ordered a review into benefits for the terminally ill, which like the end to the benefit freeze may never come to fruition – for the same reasons explained above.

Amber Rudd said: “Having a life limiting illness or severe condition can cause unimaginable suffering for the patient and for their loved ones.

“Having seen it in my own family I know that the last thing you need is additional financial pressures or unnecessary assessments.

“So that’s why today I am beginning work on a fresh and honest evaluation of our benefits system so that I can be sure that people who are nearing the end of their life are getting the best possible support.”

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She continued: “I hope that this comprehensive evaluation of how we treat those with severe conditions and terminal illnesses will help ensure these vulnerable people get the support they need from our benefits system.

“I want people to have confidence in what we do at the DWP, ensuring no one is suffering unnecessary hardship at this especially difficult time.”

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