Iain Duncan Smith resigns over planned disability benefit changes

Conservative MP, Iain Duncan Smith, has resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary over £4bn of planned cuts to disability benefits.

In his Budget on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne had said that the government would be spending an extra £1bn on disability, but the changes to benefits announced a few days prior had suggested that the government would save a total of £4.4bn by 2020-21.

They included changes to the criteria of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which will replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in January 2017, with an expected saving of £1.3bn, which provoked an outcry from opposition parties and some Tory MPs.

Mr Duncan Smith wrote in his resignation letter that, although the changes were ‘defensible in narrow terms, given the continuing deficit’, they were a ‘compromise too far’ and should have formed part of a ‘wider process’ of finding the best way to focus resources on those in need.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he criticised the way the cuts were presented in the Budget, and the ‘deeply unfair’ foundations because they were ‘juxtaposed’ with tax cuts for the wealthy.

In reply, David Cameron said that he was ‘puzzled and disappointed’ at the resignation given that they had ‘collectively agreed’ on the reforms, announced by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Opposition parties have welcomed Mr Duncan Smith’s resignation and have called for Mr Osborne to resign as well.

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: ‘The resignation of Iain Duncan Smith reveals a government in disarray and a chancellor who has lost the credibility to manage the economy in the interests of the majority of our people. The chancellor has failed the British people. He should follow the honourable course taken by Iain Duncan Smith and resign.’


Jonny Chard

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