CITIZENS Advice Scotland has warned that it would be “absolutely catastrophic” if the UK government fails to increase benefits in line with inflation. 

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has refused to deny that the planned uprating could be cancelled as ministers move to make billions of pounds worth of savings following last week's mini-budget which saw taxes for higher earners slashed

The promise to link the benefits to inflation was made by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this year, as he set out his emergency package to help with the cost of living. 


In May, he told MPs in that he expected benefits for next year to be uprated in line with the CPI figure for September, as usual, resulting in “a very significant increase."

During a trip to Darlington, Mr Kwarteng was asked if that would still happen. He refused to say: "We are talking about helping people in the round. It is premature for me to come to a decision on that.

"But we are absolutely focused on making sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected through what could be a challenging time."

According to Tony Wilson from the Institute of Employment, the saving from not following through on that promise would be between £3bn and £4bn.

Many Tories MPs may struggle with the optics of what would in effect be a cut to benefits, while those earning over £150,000 a year are given a significant tax break.

The prospect was first raised last night by Treasury minister Chris Philp.

He told ITV’s Peston programme: “We are going to look for efficiencies wherever we can find them.”

“Those efficiency savings will firstly make sure we do stick to those spending limits,” Mr Philp said, “and secondly it will enable us, within those spending limits which we are going to stick to, to target things which are going to stimulate growth.”

Asked about the expected uprating of benefits in line with inflation. He replied: “I am not going to make policy commitments on live TV, it is going to be considered in the normal way, we will make a decision and it will be announced I am sure in the first instance to the House of Commons.”

Citizens Advice Scotland Social Justice spokesperson Stephanie Millar said the prospect of leaving benefits as they were despite soaring inflation could lead to people starving. 

She said: "Failing to uprate benefits in line with inflation would be absolutely catastrophic for the poorest and most vulnerable. 

"This time last year Universal Credit was cut by £20 per week.

"Since then we have seen an unprecedented cost of living crisis where incomes haven't matched the increase in bills and prices in the shops.

"As temperatures fall and costs rise people could freeze or starve without adequate support.

"People are struggling badly, and the long term impact of inadequate levels of social security is more people in debt and more pressure on public services.

"It may feel like a saving in the first instance to the Treasury, but the impact will cost more in the long run."

Kirsty Blackman, the SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, said uprating benefits was the least the UK Government could do.

She said: “The Tories at Westminster have imposed twelve years of austerity, cut Universal Credit during the pandemic, brought in debt-inducing policies like the bedroom tax and two-child cap, and tanked the pound with their recent disastrous mini-budget.

"All policies which are pushing low-income families into, or further into, financial hardship, poverty and destitution.

“At the same time they have cut tax for the wealthiest and scrapped the cap on bankers' bonuses. They are making the rich richer at the expense of low and middle-income families.

“The very least they should do is uprate benefits in line with inflation and commit to the triple lock on pensions - as they promised - to ensure those who are most vulnerable in this cost of living crisis get some of the financial support they need to heat their homes and put food on the table.

"If they do not, millions more will fall below, or further below, the poverty line."