Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said he is "proud to live in a country where there is a ladder everyone can climb, but also a safety net below which no one falls", as he addressed the Conservative party conference today.

The conference, which was held in Manchester, had a number of contentious talking points amid inside party pressure on Mr Hunt to cut taxes.

To appease those Tory MPs, which included Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's predecessor, Liz Truss, Hunt detailed his plan to cut the number of government workers by freezing the expansion of the civil service.

Here we take a look at other talking points from today's conference:

Harsher benefits sanctions

Mr Hunt told the party membership in Manchester: "Since the pandemic, things have been going in the wrong direction. Whilst companies struggle to find workers, around 100,000 people are leaving the labour force every year for a life on benefits.

"As part of that, we will look at the way the sanctions regime works. It is a fundamental matter of fairness. Those who won't even look for work do not deserve the same benefits as people trying hard to do the right thing."

The chancellor also announced that Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride would look again at the benefit sanctions regime to make it harder for people to claim benefits while refusing to take active steps to move into work.

And a spokesman confirmed the proposals would be set out in the upcoming autumn statement.

Speaking last month, Mr Stride said that he was consulting on changes to the Work Capability Assessment, the test aimed at establishing how much a disability or illness limits someone's ability to work.

Mr Hunt also confirmed a new policy that could seek people looking for new jobs, with a freeze on the number of civil servants.

"We have the best civil servants in the world - and they saved many lives in the pandemic by working night and day," said the chancellor. But even after that pandemic is over, we still have 66,000 more civil servants than before.

"New policies should not always mean new people. So today I'm freezing the expansion of the civil service and putting in place a plan to reduce its numbers to pre-pandemic levels. This will save £1bn next year.

"And I won't lift the freeze until we have a proper plan not just for the civil service but for all public sector productivity improvements."

National living wage increase

On the national living wage, Mr Hunt said the government was going to accept the Low Pay Commission's recommendation to raise the baseline to at least £11 an hour from April 2024.

Resisting sizeable pay increases in the public sector has been part of the government's strategy to keep spending and inflation under control

Mr Hunt said: "Since we introduced the national living wage], nearly two million people have been lifted from absolute poverty. That's the Conservative way of improving the lives of working people. Boosting pay, cutting tax."

Ahead of the speech, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "I've always made it clear that hard work should pay, and today we're providing a well-earned pay rise to millions of people across the country.

"This means a full-time worker will receive an increase of over £1,000 to their annual earnings, putting more money in the pockets of the lowest paid.

"We're sending a clear message to hard-working taxpayers across the country; our Conservative government is on your side".

HS2 Manchester leg 'scrapped'

The Manchester branch of the HS2 railway line has been abandoned, or has it?

Shortly before the chancellor Jeremy Hunt was due to take the stage, ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston reported that the Manchester leg of the high-speed project would not be going ahead.

Earlier, Hunt had been asked about HS2 and questioned why delivering HS2 is costing vastly more than similar projects in Europe.

He told LBC radio: “I need to have an answer as to why it costs 10 times more to build high-speed rail in this country than it does across the Channel in France.

“Some of that spending you’ve been talking about (on public relations costs) is totally unacceptable.”

Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: “Rishi Sunak using a conference in Manchester to cancel the northern leg of HS2 would make Liz Truss look like a political genius.”

East-Hull Labour MP Karl Turner said: "Imagine holding your conference in an old Railway Station and announcing scrapping HS2 to that very city."

However, in yet another "will they won't they" twist, a No 10 spokesperson said: "These reports are incorrect. No final decisions have been taken on phase 2 of HS2."

Ministers from Rishi Sunak down have been incapable of answering questions about the fate of the rail project for a fortnight now, despite a widespread belief a decision could be soon.