Amongst an array of policy changes and new plans for tax and public spending, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will confirm the upcoming year’s increase in DWP welfare benefit rates in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, though the exact uprate figure remains uncertain.
Benefits are usually uprated every April based on inflation statistics from the previous September.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate increased by 6.7 percent in September, which would typically imply benefits would rise by the same figure in April 2024.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) shared a notice confirming the new figures will be published on Wednesday. The statement reads: “Advance notice that an ad-hoc statistical release called ‘Benefit uprating – estimated number and type of families and individuals in families benefiting from the uprating of benefits in 2024 to 2025’ will be published on November 22.”
But following October’s sharp drop in inflation to 4.7 percent, the Treasury may be considering the possibility of using this figure for the annual uprating instead, the Guardian reports.
Commenting on the notice, Steve Webb, former pensions minister speculated on X: “Benefit cuts alert – DWP just issued a notice of an ‘ad hoc’ publication on benefit upratings on Wednesday – in years where they simply pay inflation, they don’t do this. Looks like this will be their defensive doc, justifying using the more recent inflation figure.” (sic)
In response to Mr Webb’s X post, a spokesperson from the DWP told Express.co.uk that a similar notice was issued before last year’s statement, emphasising that there has been no change in the manner in which the alert has been shared.
Last year, the Chancellor confirmed benefits would rise in line with inflation – as per usual – which provided claimants with a 10.1 percent increase in their payment rates earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Treasury minister Gareth Davies has so far refused to guarantee that the September figure would be used.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme last Wednesday: “I am not going to speculate what may or may not be in the Autumn Statement. But I would point out that we did uprate benefits by quite some considerable margin earlier this year.”
In a letter to the Chancellor, Disability Rights UK CEO Kamran Mallick urged the Government to uprate benefits in line with September’s inflation rate, stating: “Not to do so would only exacerbate the current cost of living crisis faced by Disabled people. When coupled with the proposed changes to the work capability assessment, it could mean some disabled people will see their benefits dramatically reduced.”
Meanwhile, Paul Carberry, chief executive at Action for Children, highlighted the challenges families with children are facing amongst high living cost pressures. In a letter last month, Mr Carberry said: “Every day, our frontline workers are applying to our Crisis Fund for emergency grants to support low-income families in their care with basics like food, clothing, and utility costs.
“The Chancellor must act at the Autumn Statement to protect families with children from these intense and ongoing pressures on household finances.
“At the very least, we must see benefits rise with inflation and Cost of Living Payments reformed to take family size into account.”
JRF chief analyst, Peter Matejic, said many families “live in a world where their income, in many cases, simply doesn’t cover costs, while the Government talks about cutting their support further”.
He added in a post on X: “It’s indefensible that the Government is reportedly considering cutting the benefits of struggling families worried for their future, with news stories suggesting it plans to use today’s figures, instead of last month’s, to fiddle the figures and hide a big cut.
“In the upcoming Autumn Statement benefits must be increased in line with inflation and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) must be unfrozen to support private renters with their housing costs. Jeremy Hunt should take steps to ensure that Universal Credit, at a minimum, always enables people to afford essentials.”
The Chancellor will announce the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, November 22.