MP Iain Duncan Smith reacts to ‘stunt’ petition - ‘I know what it’s like to live on the breadline’

Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith - Credit: Archant

Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith has said he knows what it’s like “to live on the breadline” after opponents to his welfare reforms called on him to survive on £53 a week.

The work and pensions secretary was asked whether he could survive on the amount on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday.

Market trader David Bennett told the BBC he has to live on that amount after his housing benefit was cut and a petition calling on Mr Duncan Smith to do the same has been signed by more than 235,000 people.

Reacting to the petition today, the Tory MP said: “This is a complete stunt which distracts attention from the welfare reforms which are much more important and which I have been working hard to get done.

“I have been unemployed twice in my life so I have already done this.

“I know what it is like to live on the breadline.”

Yesterday the controversial “bedroom tax” was introduced, which will reduce housing benefit for working-age social housing tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms.

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Benefit payments will now rise at one per cent a year rather than with inflation as before and the welfare benefit cap will kick in this month for the first local authorities.

The intention is that no claimants will receive more than the average household income after tax, around £26,000.

A DWP spokesman said: “Benefits really are a safety net for people to help them through tough times and we know sometimes people do go through tough times on benefits.

“We are in a situation where we have a benefit system that’s very complicated and it’s difficult for people to navigate.

“The vast majority want to do the right thing and move off benefits into work and reduce the amount they receive as they move up.

“We are making it a lot clearer for people that if they step off benefits onto work it will pay.”

Will you be affected by the changes? Call 0208 477 3821 or email