Suella Braverman Claims 'Benefits Street Culture' Still Exists Despite Cost Of Living Crisis

Home secretary makes reference to derogatory Channel 4 series in debate over benefits rising in line with inflation.
Suella Braverman at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham.
Suella Braverman at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham.
Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

Suella Braverman has claimed a “Benefits Street culture” still exists in the UK amid a row over whether welfare payments should rise in line with inflation.

The home secretary was referring to the controversial Channel 4 documentary series aired in 2014 that was criticised for portraying welfare claimants in a derogatory light.

Braverman refused to be drawn on whether benefits should be uprated in line with inflation — currently running at 9.9 per cent — saying it was “under review”.

The issue promises to be the next battleground of a Tory rebellion after backbench MPs forced Kwasi Kwarteng into a u-Turn over his plans to drop the 45 rate of tax for the country’s top earners.

Former Conservative leadership hopeful Penny Mordaunt is one of a number of high-profile MPs to have said benefits should rise in line with inflation.

Meanwhile, former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell said: “I didn’t come into politics to make poor people poorer."

At a fringe event at the Tory party conference in Birmingham, Braverman said she had taken “on board” Mordaunt’s view but that a “Benefits Street culture” was still apparent in the UK.

“We have got a lot of carrots to get people into work but we have got to add more conditionality and a bit more stick,” Braverman said.

“We are not a cruel party, we are here to support people through tough times.”

Liz Truss has so far also refused to say whether she will increase benefits in line with inflation and that no decision had been made.

However, it has been reported that they could only rise by 5.4 per cent in line with average earnings - something the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said would amount to “the biggest permanent real-terms cut to the basic rate of benefits ever made in a single year”.

Elsewhere at the conference event, Braverman said it was her “ultimate aspiration” to get net migration down to the “tens of thousands”.

“I’m not going to commit to a number,” she said, adding: “I think we have got to definitely substantially reduce the number of students, the number of work visas and in particular the number of dependents on those sorts of visas.”

Braverman will also use her conference speech later today to outline plans to ban migrants who have crossed the Channel from claiming asylum in Britain.

The Times reported that Braverman is proposing to put forward a bill that would expand on the Nationality and Borders Act and would impose a blanket ban on anyone deemed entering the UK illegally from seeking refuge.

Braverman’s intervention comes as the government struggles to make its policy of sending migrants to Rwanda viable following a number of legal challenges.

So far this year more than 33,500 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey from France.

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