Cuts to welfare make people feel “more secure”, says Iain Duncan Smith

As Iain Duncan Smith welcomes a Bank of England report today saying that his welfare-to-work reforms are bearing fruit, union leaders have challenged his assertion that the government’s welfare changes have helped people feel “more secure” about the future.

In a speech today, the work and pensions secretary is expected to defend his welfare reforms which he says are aimed at helping those “with unfulfilled potential languishing on welfare”.

“Through our economic and welfare changes we will have helped people feel that bit more secure about their futures”, he will say.

Following the government’s recent announcement that a further £12bn is to be cut from the welfare budget, this has been met with disbelief in some quarters. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the claim was “ridiculous” given that he had cut the “welfare safety net”, according to the FT.

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Duncan Smith is also expected to highlight Channel 4’s controversial television programme Benefit Street. He will say: With income inequality under Labour the worst for a generation, whilst the middle-class majority were aware of the problems in poor communities, they remained largely unaware of the true nature of life on some of our estates.

“We let these problems be ghettoised as though they were a different country. Even now, for the most part they remain out of sight – meaning people are shocked when they are confronted with a TV programme such as Benefits Street.”

He will say that those on the left believe that the most compassionate way to deal with the problem of poverty is to sustain impoverished families on slightly better incomes through provision of more state money.

He will claim: “Too often for those locked in the benefits system, that process of making responsible and positive choices has been skewed – money paid out to pacify them regardless, with no incentive to aspire for a better life.”

Duncan Smith will also blame Labour for a flood of immigrants and will say that the last government left millions of people “unchallenged” on out-of-work benefits.

“This, in turn, helped to create a demand for foreign workers, as business looked to fill the jobs that British people didn’t want or couldn’t get,” he will say. “Short-term policy making created damaging long-term consequences.”

But as benefits reforms bite, the Trussell Trust, which has provided emergency foodbanks across the UK since 2000, has seen a 170% rise in numbers of people in need of emergency food over the last 12 months, with almost 350,000 people receiving at least three days emergency food from the charity. Benefit delays or changes make up almost 45% of issues causing people to turn to food banks.

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