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Jeremy Corbyn re-ignites confusion over Labour approach to benefits freeze

The Labour leader said benefits would and should be up-rated, despite his manifesto making no such pledge 

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 29 May 2017 20:39 BST
Jeremy Corbyn re-ignites confusion over Labour approach to benefits freeze

Jeremy Corbyn has re-ignited confusion over the party's approach to the freeze on benefits after saying welfare payments will be up-rated under a Labour government.

The Labour leader said benefits should be increased, despite a senior member of his shadow cabinet saying the move - which could cost some £3bn - would be unaffordable.

In a live TV confrontation with Jeremy Paxman, Mr Corbyn was also once again challenged over his views on nuclear weapons, the IRA and militant groups in the middle east.

There was a day of confusion over the party's approach to the benefits freeze when Labour launched its manifesto earlier this month, with senior figures finally drawing a line under it by admitting it would cost too much to end the lock – due to run until 2020.

But asked by Paxman on Monday if he would freeze benefits, as currently planned by the Conservative Government, Mr Corbyn said: "Benefits will be paid of course. Benefits will be up-rated, they will be up-rated of course and there will be a higher living wage as I've outlined."

He added: "No, they are not going to be frozen because they will be up-rated every year as they should be."

His words go further than those in the Labour manifesto, which does not make a commitment to end the benefits freeze, which estimates suggest could cost up to £3.6bn.

After its manifesto launch was marred by ambiguity over the party's position, shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said Labour would only “offset the impact” of the freeze.

She added: "I don’t think we can reverse it entirely. We shouldn’t be promising things we can’t afford.

"We will look at the worst affected and those most at need, we will increase the living wage which will mean that those on in-work benefits will not suffer in the same way as they were."

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