Tag Archives: iain duncan smith

Tim Farron on Conservatives’ theft of Referendum result while IDS turns into Trump

Sunday Politics Tim Farron IDSYesterday on the Sunday Politics, Tim Farron and Iain Duncan Smith went head to head. The former Tory leader is no longer the quiet man. He spent much of the interview muttering over Tim, telling him he was talking “utter rubbish.” It was the sort of aggressive sneering that would be more at home at a Trump rally.

Despite all that, Tim did really well. He made his point that it would be a massive mistake to leave the single market. He said that it was vital that the eventual deal was put to the British people and cited Lord Kerr’s backing of that position. You can’t, he said, start off a process with democracy and end it with a stitch up. We didn’t vote to leave the single market.

He added that the Government had chosen to listen to the “siren voices of English nationalism” in the Tory Party and not the pragmatic wishes of business, accusing them of “theft of the result” to impose a hard brexit that nobody voted for.

Andrew Neil confronted him with the news that former Liberal Democrat peer Zahida Manzoor  had joined the Conservatives. Tim said that he found her decision peculiar but pointed to our 18 council gains and 20,000 members since June as evidence that the party was recovering.

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Laws on Osborne v Duncan Smith

David Laws CoalitionI wrote here recently on the claim by Iain Duncan Smith that he had been unhappy with the extent of cuts that George Osborne was demanding from the welfare budget.

Some light has been thrown on this by David Laws’ book Coalition, written before IDS’s resignation but published since.

Largely it seems to confirm Duncan Smith’s position. Not that he is a welfare dove by any means – for example when a complete welfare freeze for 2012 was proposed, while inflation was running at 5 per cent (p102)

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Farron and Rennie react to IDS resignation

Well, that was a surprise last night. I was lying in my bed feeling ill, as I have been for days, when the news came through that Iain Duncan Smith had resigned. My instinctive reaction was to worry. IDS was probably about as good as it gets when it comes to the Tories and social security. His replacement is likely to have even less of a social conscience.

I totally accept that the bar is not very high here. I do wonder how somebody can happily cut £30 a week off sickness benefits just weeks ago, introduce the benefit cap, limiting of Employment and Support Allowance, Bedroom Tax and impose the Universal Credit cuts and finally resign over the issue of disability benefit cuts which looked like they were being kicked into the long grass anyway.  IDS’s resignation letter talks a good fight in the last paragraph, where he asks what we’ve all been saying for years, whether we really are all in this together, but it justifies many of the things that most Liberal Democrats found unacceptable. This, of course is before you even get to the capping benefits at two children and the “rape clause” that requires a mother of a third child to prove rape in some unspecified way before she can get benefits for her third child. And don’t get me started on benefit sanctions. Have I missed anything?

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Cuts to youth services? You couldn’t make it up


You really couldn’t make it up.

A senior Tory Cabinet member has bemoaned a local Council for making cuts to its Youth Service.

Iain Duncan Smith, yes the Work and Pensions Secretary, who according to reports believes people with debilitating and life-limiting illnesses can still work, has told a local newspaper that the “vitally important” provision must be saved. Read the story here.

I think the nail has finally been hammered in to irony’s coffin and it is being lowered into the ground.

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Disgraceful attitude to mental health disguised by the warm words of Iain Duncan-Smith

Listening to Iain Duncan-Smith can be enough to send anyone to sleep. He drones on and one can be lulled into thinking he is being quite reasonable.

However, behind his warm words, there is a chilling attitude to disabilities and particularly to mental illness.

He seems to be saying: There must be something you can do if you are suffering from depression.

And: If we start cutting your benefits, that’ll act as a little nudge to push you gently into work.

Blimey. What planet does he live on?

Having had a little experience of mental illness and those suffering from such long-term disabilities, I have to say that none of this washes.

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Work is “like health treatment” says Iain Duncan-Smith

Iain Duncan SmithThe Gainsborough Standard reports:

Iain Duncan Smith has defended plans to get the sick and disabled back to work amid allegations that he is “punishing” society’s most vulnerable.

The Work and Pensions Secretary insisted being employed was like a “health treatment” and could help make people better.

He also denied that he had a target of taking a million disabled people off benefits, arguing it was sensible to ask whether individuals could do some work rather than writing them off altogether.

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Why IDS is still in his job is revealing of Conservative attitudes to social security

Iain Duncan SmithWhen Andrew Lansley’s health reforms ran into trouble – and his inability to take with him the public or those working in the NHS proved toxic – David Cameron reshuffled him out of harm’s way. Jeremy Hunt was brought in to make nice to the health sector and patients.

When Michael Gove’s education reforms started to run before they could walk – and his inability to take with him the public or the teachers proved toxic, especially in marginal constituencies – David Cameron reshuffled him out of harm’s way. Nicky …

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The Independent View: Government can ensure that the election debate on welfare and tax reform is informed as well as impassioned

HBAIThe changes to taxes and benefits that came into effect in April 2013 are the Coalition’s most important single package of work and welfare reforms. Some, above all the bedroom tax, have provoked fierce opposition. Others, like the replacement of council tax benefit by council tax support, have impacted millions.

But April 13 was also the moment when the income tax personal allowance went up by the largest amount ever, returning £5 a week to the pocket of anyone earning between about £9,500 and £41,000 a year.

Add in the fact that the knock-on effects of reforms as time passes are not always the same as the immediate ones and it is clear that this package of changes will have had complex and often contradictory effects, especially at a time when the economy itself had once more started to grow again steadily.

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What links Jeremy Hunt and Peter Lilley? (Tip: If you’re not sure who they are, that’s the clue.)

Who’s the most famous cabinet minister? And who’s the least famous? That’s what YouGov set out to find out by inviting its representative sample of the public to type in the name, unprompted, of the post-holder of six senior cabinet positions. Here’s what they found…

identifiable cabinet ministers - yougov

So Iain Duncan Smith (36% correctly naming him as Work and Pensions secretary) and Jeremy Hunt (28% as health secretary) are the least famous cabinet members. Though, to be honest – like John Rentoul and with due respect to Mike Smithson …

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Steve Webb on working with IDS: “When it comes to pensions I think he trusts my judgment.”

steve webbPensions minister Steve Webb is one Lib Dem minister who has emerged from Coalition with his reputation enhanced, praised even by such diverse admirers as The Sun, The Guardian and Quentin Letts. Today’s Daily Mail features a warm profile of him talking about his passion: pensions. Here are a couple of excerpts that give a flavour…

On working with Iain Duncan Smith

Today, he and Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith have become Westminster’s odd couple. IDS is renowned for his Right-wing stance on benefits and welfare, and Mr Webb

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David Laws challenges Tories on child poverty

The frustrations of being in government with the Tories are no greater than when they are concerned with issues of poverty and vulnerability. Many Liberal Democrats have ongoing concerns about welfare reforms which remove support from people who need it. However much we might try to console ourselves with the fact that we are making a difference with things like free school meals, the raising of the tax threshold, extra childcare for the poorest, an early start to education for the poorest 2 year olds and making sure that the whole country enjoys the benefits of the economic recovery and …

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The weekend debate: should benefits for pensioners be restricted?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith have both been arguing within the government for rich pensioners to have their benefits cut:

Nick Clegg is backing calls for cuts in pension benefits such as winter fuel payments and free bus passes. David Cameron is said to be adamant that the Tories should keep to a pledge made before the general election that the payments remain. But Clegg is understood to have told colleagues he wants the winter payments and free TV licences cut

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Liberal Democrats deliver fair pensions for women

So, here it is in the Guardian, the paper that’s been so critical of the Coalition in general and the Lib Dems in particular, these past two years. The announcement that many of us have wanted to see for as long as we’ve been politically active. That women who take time out of the labour market to care for children or sick relatives will not be penalised in their old age.

This is an example of the Coalition delivering a major benefit to mainly women.  And although it’s Iain Duncan Smith who’s quoted in the article, make no mistake, it’s Liberal …

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Lib Dem MPs win concessions ahead of benefits cap vote

Lib Dem MPs, including the party’s deputy leader Simon Hughes, look set to obtain concessions from Iain Duncan Smith to win their support for the Coalition’s controversial welfare bill, which will introduce a benefit cap of a maximum of £26,000. Here’s how The Guardian reports the news:

The government is expected to make a series of concessions in the coming days on it controversial £26,000 household benefits cap to win over wavering Liberal Democrat MPs. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, is expected to agree that a discretionary fund should be established to ease the burden on families

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Official rebukes Iain Duncan Smith over immigration figures (mis)use

The BBC reports:

The UK’s statistics watchdog has rebuked a minister over his handling of controversial figures on benefits claimed by immigrants.

Sir Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, questioning the way he released the figures almost week ago.

He highlighted that the figures were presented to the public as if they were official figures but in fact had not been through the rigorous and impartial process for publishing such numbers:

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The Independent View: There are now two main government narratives about child poverty

It’s been said that Margaret Thatcher’s governments did two things for poverty. First they increased it. Then they pretended it did not exist. As Alan Milburn prepares to makes his first speech as the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty on Tuesday, his task will be to help the Coalition avoid a similar, devastating, legacy.

The last government’s record was far from perfect, but Milburn should advise the Coalition to recognise the very real progress made and learn from the successes just as much as from the failings.

Some Ministers, including Lib Dems, have bizarrely trashed the last government’s

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Laws advises Clegg: oppose Tories’ “arbitrary and vindictive” benefits cuts

The Financial Times this weekend reported what it labelled ‘one of the fiercest and most fascinating political battles of the year’ — a battle which looks set to pitch David Laws and Nick Clegg against George Osborne and the Labour leadership.

The issue concerns the amount by which the Coalition should increase benefits: based on September’s inflation figure, this should be 5.2%. The Tories are pushing for a below-inflation settlement, but Mr Laws — co-editor of The Orange Book, and firmly identified as an economic liberal — is urging the Lib Dems to reject such a move:

Mr Laws, considered

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Interview with Mike Moore MP – Action in Government, ideas for the future

Interview: Mike Moore MP –  Action in Government,  ideas for the future

It can’t be much fun being Alex Salmond these days.  The euphoria of May has subsided, and he’s  realised that there’s nobody else to blame for his majority Government’s actions.  On top of that, wherever he looks, he sees the grin of Wilie Rennie,  ready to highlight any example of anglophobia, of  dodging , delaying, ducking and diving. The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader has had accolade after accolade in the press for providing such high quality opposition to the SNP …

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Opinion: Political reasons for people to back the ESA motion‏

If any of you are wondering how we can improve our situation in the polls then I’ve got a suggestion for you: back the Liberal Youth sponsored ESA Motion.

Now there are all sorts of compassionate, liberal and financial reasons to back this motion. The current system is unfair, inhumane, inaccurate and expensive. But, putting all that to one side for a moment, there are sound political reasons to back it.

At the moment the treatment of people with long term illnesses and disabilities is appalling. The media are starting to wake up to the issue, the government is facing a …

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Benefit caps and central London: how many children will be moving school?

Many Liberal Democrats I’ve spoken to have mixed feelings about the proposed benefit cap and some of the housing benefit changes. On the one hand, they have very little sympathy with the complaints of people such as Frank Dobson that rule changes means he wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in his council flat. Count me in the camp who doesn’t think council housing should be used to let ex-ministers with decades of salary earning that puts them amongst the best paid in the country and with membership of a decent pension scheme live in one of London’s most …

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Think tank slams government, but it’s one for the ‘good news’ files

I think nearly all Liberal Democrats will take this as good news rather than bad:

The highly-critical assessment of the coalition’s first year in power was delivered by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) – which was founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

And it comes just months after the former Tory leader himself risked stoking tensions with Liberal Democrat colleagues by renewing calls for the state to reward marriage financially.

In a report to mark the anniversary of the power-sharing deal, the CSJ complained that the tax break plan had “moved off radar” because of opposition from the

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LibLink: Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith on social mobility

As part of the government’s launch of its social mobility strategy this week, Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith co-authored a piece for the Daily Telegraph:

Labour couldn’t make up its mind on what goal it was chasing. Social exclusion? Income poverty? Inequality? Social mobility? Lacking a clear agenda, it fixated on just one measure of fairness – the poverty line, defined as 60 per cent of median income. This is a necessary part of the equation, but it is very far from sufficient.

Billions of pounds were spent by Labour moving people just above that line, without significantly changing their

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Welfare Reform Bill published today

The Government’s Welfare Reform Bill is being published today and its measures are mostly as previously trailed. The big policy in it is the Universal Credit – a major simplification to a horrendously complicated benefits system – and a very Liberal Democrat policy.

Because of the heavy previous trailing of the Welfare Reform Bill’s measures there are no major surprises in what it proposes but there are three respects in which it shows the outcome of the at times very lively debate within government – mostly, though not always, Liberal Democrat versus Conservative – about its contents. In that respect, …

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Stephen Lloyd MP writes… This government is working

The last six months as the new Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne have been more of a rollercoaster than I could ever have imagined they would be! I’ve been pretty much just as flat out, albeit in a different way, as an MP as I was during the 6 months frenetic run up to the General Election.

Much has gone on as you’ll all be aware but the two things I’d like to write about today show the upside of being in Government and the upside of having the privilege of influence all MPs enjoy.

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DWP rebuked over its use of statistics

The Guardian reports,

The head of the UK Statistics Authority has issued a public rebuke to welfare ministers over their use of official statistics, warning of “serious deficiencies” in the handling of unemployment data.

Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the authority, said that by failing to show the evidence for claims made by ministers, the government risked undermining public trust.

His criticism comes a day after Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for work and pensions, was forced to explain to MPs why the “official” statistics he quoted in parliament had in fact been taken from a property website owned by

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Steve Webb writes… Why Liberal Democrats should welcome the welfare reforms

Many Liberal Democrats may be wondering what to make of last week’s announcement by Iain Duncan Smith to replace a whole raft of working-age welfare benefits with a Universal Credit. As a Lib Dem Minister at the DWP, I thought it would be helpful to offer my perspective.

As a party we have long talked about integrating the tax and benefits system. As a first step, we surely need to integrate the benefits system with itself. The Universal Credit approach sits comfortably with our own policy to introduce a single working-age benefit, and will provide a basic allowance topped up by additional elements …

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Nick Clegg averted the axe from over-16s’ child benefit

Paul Walter has spotted an under-reported point in the child benefit coverage of the past few days: that payments for children aged 16 to 18 were originally intended to be stopped, but that this plan was dropped after Nick Clegg intervened.

Paul spotted this in a “deep trawl” of the Telegraph:

The controversial decision to “pre-announce” the child benefit decision was made 10 days ago by the key Conservative power-broking trio of David Cameron, Mr Osborne and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, it is understood.

A couple of days later they informed Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, and his party

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Capping total benefit entitlements – right or wrong?

Alongside the widely publicised lopping of child benefits for higher-rate taxpayers, George Osborne has also announced plans for a cap on how much any one non-working family can get from the State.

The maximum will be set at £26,000 and starts in 2013. It’s likely to affect larger families, particularly those put into private rented accomodation by their local authority.

This capping seems to be pretty much impossible to do with the system as it is right now. There’s a host of different benefits and credits, all administered by different people and, in some cases, totally different tiers of government. …

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Promising news on welfare spending as major reforms set for go-ahead

On Friday I mentioned how the old Liberal Democrat policy of integrating and simplifying the tax and benefits systems is getting a revival courtesy of Iain Duncan Smith. The former Conservative leader turned Work and Pensions Secretary has been arguing hard for the funds to introduce a simplified universal benefit that also is more generous than current rules to people in low-paid jobs. This would mean that people who currently find that taking a job makes them worse off, or only marginally better off, than being unemployed thanks to loss of benefits would lose less of their benefits and so …

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An old Liberal Democrat policy rides again courtesy of Iain Duncan Smith (UPDATED)

Unusual political times indeed courtesy of the front page of today’s Times. For a long time a central part of Liberal Democrat welfare policy was to integrate and simplify the tax and benefits system. The policy faded away from the party’s priorities, partly because the details were never that straightforward; for example, how do you integrate a system based on weekly payments and assessments (benefits) with another one based on monthly and annual payments and assessments (tax, particularly income tax and PAYE)?

A large chunk of that policy is now very much back on the political agenda, as ConservativeHome reports:


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