Benefit rises our duty, not electioneering says Brown

Gordon Brown today denied electioneering over the Pre-Budget Report, saying that benefits and pensions would continue to rise.

Speaking on a visit to King's College Hospital in south London, the Prime Minister said the Government was doing its "duty".

Asked about accusations of electioneering, he said: "Benefits will continue to go up, child benefit and child tax credit, pensions will continue to go up.

"It's our duty to those people who have served the country all their lives and we are doing our duty."

The Prime Minister hit back after the Conservatives accused Chancellor Alistair Darling of a "pre-election con" in yesterday's mini-Budget.

Mr Darling announced a 1.5% rise in child benefit and disability benefits which are linked to inflation, due to come into effect next April - just weeks ahead of the expected date of the general election.

He announced he was overriding the normal requirement to link the rise to the rate of inflation the previous September, as this would have led to the benefits being frozen because inflation was negative at that point. But he made no announcement on whether the rise could be sustained after April 2011.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said the figures showed no money had been set aside to pay for benefit hikes to be continued for more than one year.

"We have got to stop having a pre-election con where you put benefits up weeks before a general election and cut them afterwards," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

But Mr Darling also denied "electioneering" with the rise, insisting that the benefits would be reviewed again in 12 months' time and the extra cash will not be taken back.

"A 1.5% increase in benefits, I don't think, can, with the best will in the world, be called electioneering. It is not a temporary rise, it is a rise we have put in this year and it is not going to be taken back. We will look at it again next year."

He went on: "Every year the Government has to have a review of benefits. In 12 months' time we will look at what the situation is and we will know what inflation is in 12 months. The announcement I made yesterday in relation to those particular benefits was for this year.

"I was quite deliberately bringing the thing forward, because otherwise you would have had a situation where these benefits were frozen and I thought that would be a little bit unfair."

Mike Brewer, of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, claimed the effect of Mr Darling's PBR was that the 1.5% benefit rise would be only temporary.

"The 1.5% rise, costing £700 million, is set to be only temporary, as the Chancellor committed himself - or rather, his successor - to increase these same benefits by 1.5% less than inflation this time next year," said Mr Brewer.

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb said the Government had given "conflicting" comments on the issue.

"If ministers can't get their heads around this complicated stitch-up then what hope do people claiming these benefits have?" he asked.

"Alistair Darling appears to have hoodwinked those listening to his Pre-Budget Report about what this could mean for people with disabilities and families in the long run. But, incredibly, he also seems to have misled his own colleagues.

"The Government needs to get its facts straight. This ruse will mean a real-terms cut in benefits for children and people with disabilities in 2011 and all ministers must take responsibility for this."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road