Iain Duncan Smith had his official credit card suspended after racking up more than £1,000 in expenses debt, it has been revealed.
The Work and Pensions Secretary is one of nineteen MPs subjected to action by the Commons watchdog, over potential invalid spending.
The revelation comes after Iain Duncan Smith had previously backed the introduction of prepaid cards for benefit claimants.
Details released in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Press Association, reveal that the watchdog has suspended the credit cards of nineteen MPs since the beginning of 2015.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) issue credit cards to MPs to use for expenses costs, such as travel and accommodation.
Politicians are required to prove that spending on the cards is legitimate within one month. Failure could result in a build-up of debt, which would be recovered by refusing further expenses payments made through the cards.
According to the FOI response, Iain Duncan Smith’s card was blocked after he owed £1,057.28. He is no longer owes any money.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has branded attempts by Labour MPs and welfare campaigners to force the government into publishing benefit-related death statistics ‘disgraceful’.
A petition calling on the government to publish figures revealing how many people have died within six weeks of having their benefits removed, including those who have committed suicide, has now passed 220,000 signatures.
Civil servants have admitted that they collect the data, reports the Daily Mirror. And the Information Commissioner recently ordered the DWP to publish the figures.
Iain Duncan Smith continues to resist the mounting pressure to release the requested data, even insisting that the Department for Work and Pensions “doesn’t collate the numbers”. This is despite of the DWP releasing similar statistics in 2012, showing that thousands of Incapacity Benefit claimants tragically lost their lives between 2009 and 2011.
Veteran Labour MP Michael Meacher has launched a stinging attack against Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), accusing the Work and Pensions Secretary of denying poor people food and shelter and pushing them into stealing to survive.
Writing on his blog Mr Meacher said:
“The papers are full-on when members or ex-members of the government make a fool of themselves behaving badly when they can’t get their way – Andrew Mitchell foul-mouthing a policeman with the toxic ‘plebs’ allegedly added in because he couldn’t ride his bike through the No.10 gates, and David Mellor ranting at a black cab driver over the best route home to his £8m pad near Tower Bridge.
“But what really matters about members of the government is not their silly misbehaviour, it’s they [sic] way they’re crucifying millions of people even to the point where they’re denying them food and shelter.
“On this, with a few honourable exceptions, the media are largely silent on the grounds presumably that they don’t matter because they’re not famous.
“A million people have been sanctioned by government ministers over this last year, which means that they are deprived of all their benefit for often petty infringements (e.g. being 5 minutes late for a job interview) and hence have no money for at least 4 weeks and sometimes 3 months, forcing them to steal to survive.
If they’re caught, the penalty for stealing some meat from a supermarket might be a fine of some £200 which of course they cannot conceivably pay, or it might be 6 weeks in prison.
“IDS supervises the sanctioning (though it’s outsourced to a privatised firm doing his dirty work for him), while Grayling takes care of the imprisonment.
“This is the treadmill of impoverishment to which this government is now sentencing hundreds of thousands of people every year, a crescendo of wanton harshness out of all proportion to the treatment meted out to other miscreants.
“During and after the Napoleonic wars there were up to 200 offences for which a person could be hanged, usually for stealing to keep their family alive.
“The people of this country sitting on the juries finally got round this draconian repression imposed by the ruling class by refusing to convict. That is what juries and magistrates should do now when faced by the stark injustice of the criminal justice system.
“MPs who 5 years ago stole big ticket expenses to which they were not entitled, including many on both front benches, suffered no penalty worse than being named and shamed in the newspapers, with no more than half a dozen fall-guys, not the main offenders, sent to prison for a few weeks.
“Not a single banker has been prosecuted for presiding over the wrecking of the financial and economic system by the most brazen arrogance, recklessness and incompetence, even though it has ravaged the lives of millions of innocent people.
“None of the super-rich who have been avoiding due payment of taxes by the most artificial forms of contrivance have ever been personally brought to book and sent down.
“We are now seeing one law for the rich and another for the poor in its most vicious and nasty form.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 01 Dec 2014
> He’s back… and he’s more insane than ever. You just have to watch his pronouncements with a sort of fascinated horror. What will he do next ?
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has come under fire after claiming the North East has benefitted more than any other region from the Government’s welfare reforms.
The Conservative Minister said benefit cuts such as the bedroom tax had helped encourage people into work.
And he highlighted the North East as the region which had enjoyed the biggest increase in employment, partly as a result of his policies.
But the comments were criticised by Labour MP Grahame Morris, who argued that the problem was a lack of jobs rather than a refusal to work.
Mr Morris called for more action to support former mining communities – after a major study warned they had yet to recover from devastating closures and job cuts following the miners’ strike 30 years ago.
He said: “There simply aren’t enough jobs in the local economy to soak up the workforce, and driving down the living standards of the disabled and those relying on benefits isn’t going to solve that problem.”
In a speech highlighting recent falls in unemployment, Mr Duncan Smith claimed the last Labour government had allowed people to stay on benefits instead of working.
He said: “Businesses needed the labour and, because of the way our benefit system was constructed, too few of the economically inactive took the jobs on offer.”
Mr Duncan Smith said welfare reforms were partly about “encouraging work”, including the policy of cutting housing benefit for people in council or housing association properties who are considered to have spare rooms. This is described by the Government as cutting the spare room subsidy.
He said the result had been “remarkable”, adding: “Employment is up in every region . . . increasing the most in the North East of England over the last year.”
Latest unemployment figures put the number of people in work in the North East at 1.214 million, an increase of 61,000 people over the past year.
It means the number in work increased by 5.3 per cent over 12 months, which is the highest percentage increase of any region.
However, the North East also continues to have the highest unemployment rate, at 9.6 per cent.
And there are 49,000 people aged 16 to 24 who are out of work in the North East – an unemployment rate of 24 per cent, or almost one in four, for that age group.
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 37,249 households in the North East have had benefits cut because of the bedroom tax, losing £12.82 a week on average.
A separate study from the Department for Work and Pensions found that nationally, 57 per cent of claimants affected by the bedroom tax reported cutting back on what they deemed household essentials and 35 per cent on non-essentials in order to pay their shortfall. A quarter of claimants said they had borrowed money, mostly from family and friends, to pay their rent.
> As ever, sanctions seem to have been left out of the reckoning. What percentage of that fall in people claiming unemployment is actually due to people having benefits sanction but not in work ?
Mr Morris said: “The basic problem in the North East is that we don’t have enough jobs paying a decent living wage and offering decent terms and conditions of service.
“The government should be directing more of its energies to securing economic growth in the North East rather than squeezing the local economy via cuts to the public sector and to social security.”
He highlighted a report called The State of the Coalfields, commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, a government-backed charity, which warned former coalfield areas required continued support to help people into work.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 11 Aug 2014
This year’s five reasons for child poverty are predictably unemployment, along with low levels of qualifications, single parent families, having more than three children and ill health. Such is Iain Duncan Smith’s desperation to blame children being poor on anything other than not having enough money that this is his fourth re-definition of poverty in just three years. Previous reasons for poverty, which included step-parents, mothers with mental health problems, being disabled, and of course drugs, no longer make the top five.
The main thrust of the latest strategy is to tackle what is repeatedly referred to as ‘worklessness’ – as if raising children requires no effort at all. The measures to combat this great social ill – which can mean parents spending time raising their…
View original post 741 more words
> Yes, you did read that headline correctly…
A broken benefits system is causing people to turn to food banks, an aspiring Conservative politician has said.
In comments more normally seen from Labour politicans, Berwick Tory Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said the number of people needing handouts to eat may be as a result of changes to the benefits system.
Mrs Trevelyan is bidding to take the seat from Sir Alan Beith when the Liberal Democrat steps down in 2015.
Much of her campaign has focused on the jobs potential of dualling the A1 north of Newcastle.
But last night she said that after visiting a Northumberland food bank, the evidence put to her was that those dependant upon benefits were suffering the result of changes to the system.
The Conservative-led coalition Government has come in for criticism from a variety of sources over its cuts to benefits.
Reductions in benefits have been criticised as indiscriminate while changes to the way benefits are handed out has seen delays as a result.
Mrs Trevelyan said: “All users of food banks in Northumberland have been referred by social services, Citizens Advice Bureaux or other groups like Sure Start. The reasons given are often delays in benefits being paid or other financial pressures leaving families with no money to buy food.
“I am concerned by the recurring message from the volunteers who run our local food banks, that the majority of those who come to them do so because the benefits payment system is not working.
“It should be there to support those who need a safety net while they find work or arrange long term support.
“There seems to be a serious breakdown in the effective management of the payments system. I am going to be talking in more detail with our job centre teams to try to find out what they need to solve this issue effectively.”
> Oh bugger – don’t ask them ! They’re a major part of the problem.
The Conservative candidate said that a rapid rise in the number of food banks began under Labour in 2006 when there were 3,000 nationally. This rose to more than 40,000 by 2010.
In addition to this leading food bank provider the Trussell Trust has been expanding, inevitably leading to more hard-pressed families making use of their services.
Mrs Trevelyan’s comments are similar to many of those expressed by Northern Labour MPs, though of a far less critical nature.
Also adding their concerns to the growing number of food banks was former Bishop of Durham Justin Welby. Now Archbishop of Canterbury, he has called for a greater level of awareness from the Government on the causes behind the growing number of food banks in the UK.
Senior Tories have tried to play down the rise of food banks.
Education Secretary Michael Gove came under fire for saying that financial mismanagement was the reason many people were going to food banks.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the man ultimately responsible for changes to the benefit system, refused to meet the Trussell Trust and accused it of being politically motivated.
Source – Newcastle Journal 15 Feb 2014
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric has accused the Coalition of leaving increasing numbers of people facing “hunger and destitution”.
Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said that while the need to reduce spending on benefits is widely accepted, the Government’s reforms have now destroyed even the “basic safety net”.
Archbishop Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said the welfare system had also become increasingly “punitive”, often leaving people with nothing for days on end if they fail even to fill a form in correctly.
He said it was “a disgrace” that this was possible in a country as rich as Britain.
His intervention comes as he prepares for a Consistory in Rome where he will receive a red Cardinal’s hat from Pope Francis.
The Archbishop’s criticism will be felt acutely by the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who is a practising Roman Catholic.
Last year Mr Duncan Smith accused Church of England bishops who criticised aspects of the reforms of ignoring the concerns of ordinary people.
“People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure,” said the Archbishop.
“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.
“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.
“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.
“So if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing – with nothing.
“For a country of our affluence, that quite frankly is a disgrace.”
The Archbishop is one of 19 senior clerics from around the world chosen by Pope Francis to be elevated to the highest rank of Roman Catholic clergy. It grants him a place in the secret Conclave which will elect the next Pope.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The benefits system this Government inherited was broken, trapping the very people it was designed to help, with around five million on out of work benefits and millions of children growing up in workless households.
“Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with Universal Credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
“It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending 94bn a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”
> The Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson’s nose suddenly grew to an unfeasible length – an occupational hazard for those tasked with defending the DWP.
Source – Telegraph 14 Feb 2014