While she has U-turned on one policy, the 45p tax cut for the highest earners, the prime minister is reportedly considering dropping Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase benefits in line with inflation too.
This works out to a real-time benefits cut just as the cost of living crisis is squeezing household budgets, and winter is set to be the hardest the UK has faced in decades.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Brown condemned taking such an approach to the welfare state.
He said: ″The purpose of tax credits is to make work paid, so people are not in poverty, because they’re working.
“You need help with child care, for example, to help single parents work more hours, but that’s not been available.”
The former Labour prime minister, who governed the UK during the global financial crisis of 2008, also pointed out that even when oil giants such as Shell offered to pay a tax on their profits, the cabinet refused.
He said this meant the government were still going “to make the poor pay the burden for their crisis,” which he claimed is “completely immoral and unacceptable”.
Brown claimed he has spoken to churches, charities, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, child poverty action groups and the first minister of Wales – and they all agree there will be chaos if the government goes through with this plan.
He said: “There will be a national uprising if this goes ahead, because it is nothing to do with making the gross policies of the government work. It is simply about making the poor pay the price.”
Brown’s comments came after home secretary Suella Braverman claimed there was a “Benefits Street culture” in the UK. This was a reference to the controversial Channel 4 documentary series from 2014, which was heavily criticised for showing welfare claimants in a derogatory manner.
With inflation running at 9.9%, the home secretary has said the pledge to increase benefits was “under review” – sparking speculation it won’t go ahead.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that if benefits only increased by 5.4%, in line with average earnings instead of inflation, it would equate to “the biggest permanent real-term cut to the basic rate of benefits ever made in a single year”.
There is also a Tory rebellion brewing over the policy, with high-profile MPs such as Penny Mordaunt speaking out in favour of raising benefits in line with inflation.