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Squeezing welfare budget further is not the answer, says Iain Duncan Smith

By on Thursday, 24 May 2012

Iain Duncan Smith is the most senior Catholic in Government (PA photo)

Iain Duncan Smith is the most senior Catholic in Government (PA photo)

The most senior Catholic politician in Government has launched a defence of his welfare reforms in The Catholic Herald in the midst of pressure from colleagues to make even bigger cuts to spending.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said the problem of worklessness would not be solved merely by expanding or shrinking the welfare budget.

His argument appears to respond to calls from George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s ex-policy chief, to cut another £10 or £25bn from welfare funding.

Mr Osborne said in his Budget speech last month that the next spending review would have to cut the welfare bill to prevent “the full weight of the spending restraint” falling on other departments.

Mr Duncan Smith, however, said he believed an extra £10 billion in welfare cuts was not acceptable.

In The Catholic Herald this week Work and Pensions Secretary said: “When welfare spending balloons, as it has done, the temptation is to squeeze it. But – rather like a balloon – if you squeeze it at one end it will grow at the other. What we have to do is reduce demand.

“That is why our reforms are about changing the nature of the welfare system so that it acts as a springboard rather than a trap, moving people off the rolls not simply because they are no longer allowed access to benefits, but because they no longer need to.”

The Welfare Reform Bill, passed by Parliament in March, introduced a £26,000 household benefits cap and a single universal credit to replace six means-tested benefits and tax credits.

The law was expected to save £18bn a year by 2014-15.

At the time Mr Cameron hailed it as a “historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in over 60 years”.

Mr Duncan Smith said the measures were “not about cheese-paring, but improving incentives to work and rewarding those who progress into employment”.

He said: “We are making sure everyone who accesses the welfare system is on a journey – moving from dependence to independence. But if we are to help people on this journey, we have to recognise a simple fact. Not everyone is starting from the same place. Where someone comes from a community where worklessness has become ingrained into everyday life, there is no point in simply lecturing them about the moral purpose of work, or in wielding a bigger and bigger stick. Sticks only work if there is a way out.

“What you must tackle is the biggest demotivating factor that many people face – the fact that the complexity of the welfare system and the way it is set up creates the clear perception that work does not pay. It is this factor which can stop an individual’s journey back to work in its tracks. Changing this is what the universal credit and the Work Programme are all about.”

The Work Programme involves paying private companies and charities for getting people back into work.

A survey this week found that 22 per cent of the first 300,000 people on the scheme are employed after spending nine months to a year on the programme.

The Government is hoping that 36 per cent of those on the scheme will get jobs. Private and voluntary organisations are paid up to £6,000 for every person they place in work.

Liam Byrne, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, was unavailable for comment.

  • Annie Bishop

    Yes and it’s outrageous what this man is doing to the sick and disabled, shame on you

  • Recusant

    There are currently 2.5 million people claiming incapacity benefit in the UK, more than invalids at the end of the first world war. It is completely unbelievable that there are 2.5 million incapacitated people in the country. How do you propose to weed out the people who are diverting resources away from where they are needed? Until you can answer that question you should refrain from throwing around “shame on you”

  • Charles Martel

    I wish the Catholic Herald would ask IDS ‘How is it that you, a Catholic, can publicly support the abomination of same-sex ‘marriage’? Now THAT would be an interesting interview…

  • Holmes214

    This is all claptrap and anyone reading this article should  find out the truth  and reality of what this man is doing to the vulnerable people in society, it is truly shocking beyond belief. There are 1000s of disabled and seriously ill people that have had their only means of support denied and found fit to work despite serious illness and disability. Not only that, there are people that have committed suicide as a result of this governments actions. Here is a link to a website     that has published a list of the people that have died, it is horrific  Since the list was first published more people have died, it is an outrage and the government are doing nothing to address this issue only preach the rhetoric printed in this article. You may find that you can’t access this link because it has been taken down several time because the powers that be don’t want people to find out the truth so here are other links you may find helpful if you wish to know the truth:-     These links are just a few of many and campaigners (not political activists or trouble makers for the sake of it but honest, decent, struggling, people) are not only fighting against the wickedness of this vile government but also the mass media, apart from the few exceptions,  that continue to support and perpetuate this governments immorality and crimes against humanity.

  • Holmes214

    You need to find out the truth, shame on you

  • Atos Victims

    One word for IDS, B######S  

  • Recusant

    Sorry, that’s not good enough. By all means correct me where I am wrong (I got my figures from the Guardian, so it’s certainly possible they are wrong), but just shouting shame is not acceptable. And if you don’t even accept that there are many, many people who are claiming incapacity benefit who are not incapacitated, let alone provide suggestions for how to remove the waste from the system you are not making a serious attempt to help the people who really need it.

  • haoben405
  • Holmes214

    What isn’t good enough is your understanding of what this vile governments is getting away with and who the true leeches are in our society. The persecution and gross neglect of vulnerable citizens is abhorrent to any right minded person and to take a sledgehammer to crack a nut is not only puerile, it’s unnecessarily wicked. Anybody with a grain of common sense knows that whatever system is in place it’s open to abuse and the true fact of this matter is, fraudulent claims of this present system run at 0.5%, the governments own figures, as this article points out

    The truth of the who the real fraudsters are can be found in this article  

    I can post 100s of links but I wont waste my time because it’s better you find the truth for yourself. We on the receiving end of this corrupt, clueless, inept,  bunch of Toffers know the true facts and figures and are fighting for our lives, which, in one of the richest countries in the world should not be happening. And remember this, before this day is out there will be at least one person with your view point that will be needing those entitlements, just hope to heaven it isn’t yourself or one of your loved ones

  • Holmes214

    @ Recusant  “Just shouting shame is not acceptable” What is then? I’d hazard a guess that 99% of folk reading this article would be shouting from the roof tops………………. SHAME!!!!  

  • Holmes214

    Please help stop the injustice metered out by this vile government on the less fortunate in our society  by going to this link

  • henleng291