Iain Duncan Smith calls benefit rises unfair

Cash Increases in benefits have cost £6.3bn since the start of the 2008 recession, Iain Duncan Smith says

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It is unfair for benefits to rise at a faster rate than wages, the work and pensions secretary has said ahead of a key Commons vote on capping benefits.

Figures highlighted by Iain Duncan Smith show jobless benefits rose 20% in the last five years, compared with an average 12% rise in private sector pay.

He said benefits should no longer automatically increase with inflation.

But Labour said job seekers allowance had failed to keep pace with wages over the past 10 years.

MPs are due to debate legislation on Tuesday which is designed to break the link between benefit rises and inflation.

Instead there will be a three-year cap of 1% - which is below the expected rise in the cost of living - on most working-age benefits and tax credits for three years from 2013/14.

Child benefit, housing benefit and universal credit will be capped for two years from 2014/15.

The Opposition, who will fight the 1% cap, say that job seekers allowance has risen by 32% over the past decade, whereas wages have gone up by 36%.

BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said that these are not new figures from either the government or the Labour party.

"But this is not really a row over numbers - this is a battle to win not just a Parliamentary vote, but the public argument over whether those on benefits should feel the squeeze to the same extent as those in work," our correspondent said.

'Tightening belts'

Chancellor George Osborne told MPs in his Autumn Statement last month that the incomes of those on out-of-work benefits had risen "twice as fast as those in work" over the last five years.

Mr Duncan Smith said that working families had been tightening their belts after years of pay restraint while watching benefits rise - and that, he said, was not fair.

Increases had cost the taxpayer £6.3bn since the start of the 2008 recession, he said.

"The welfare state under Labour effectively trapped thousands of families into dependency as it made no sense to give up the certainty of a benefit payment in order to go back to work.

"This government is restoring fairness to the system and universal credit will ensure it always pays to be in work."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said cuts to tax credits had pushed millions of working families into poverty and now meant thousands of part-time workers were "better off on benefits".

"Now he wants to hit working families again with his strivers tax bill. Yet this omnishambles government thinks it's right to give an average £107,000 tax cut for 8,000 millionaires," he said.

"This Tory-led government is comprehensively out of touch with the reality of Britain's working families."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1347.

    We have to get back to the original concept of the Welfare State as conceived by Beveridge.It should be a Safety Net in times of trouble : not a way of life.The fact that we are having to debate this shows how far we have come/ strayed and debassed the original idea.There are too many 'Benefits' for too many things which should not be subject to them

  • rate this

    Comment number 1265.

    I have recently had to move in with my parents and get a 2nd job to be able to save for my own house. It really upsets me when I see people draining society by not working. My Dad has worked all his life and has had to give up work as he has cancer and he is not entitled to a penny. How is that fair???

  • rate this

    Comment number 752.

    after being unemployed for 6 months i have just found a part time job . it pays £115 per week but as its under 16 hours i can still claim jsa . jsa payment is £110 per week . but i am choosing not to claim as the pt work pay is more and i dont like taking money for nothing . tax credits remain unchanged . but under universal credit i would have to claim everything . is that not unfair

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    I would like to see the establishment of a wage ombudsman. There is too much opportunity for business to pay minimal wages to skilled or semi-skilled workers, simply because they need a job. If the salaries/wages attached to all advertised vacancies went through an independent ombudsman, it could be deemed to be fair, taking into account regional adjustments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    IDS is trying to turn the working poor against the jobless poor. The fact is life is going to get very hard for both, and IDS is hoping we're not intelligent enough to realise that the real people we should be angry with is the government and their rich friends. We need more full time jobs with living wages, and until we have enough of them it's no use just saying we need to make work pay.


Comments 5 of 12


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