Pensioners may not receive a boost to their payments later this year after all, with the finance minister only promising the benefits won’t go backwards.

Pensioners won’t get the automatic boost they are used to in September because inflation has fallen.

Scott Morrison has instead opened the door to offering them a top-up payment in the October budget.

But his finance minister, Mathias Cormann, does not appear enthusiastic about the potential sweetener.

“Indexation arrangements are there to take account of the rising costs of living,” he told ABC News on Friday.

“Self-evidently, if the cost of living goes backwards yet the pension remains the same, then that is an improvement in the relative position.”

Senator Cormann echoed the prime minister in pointing out pensioners had already received hundreds of dollars in coronavirus pandemic payments.

“What other measures we might take in this context … that is going to be a matter to be determined in the context of the budget.”