Secretary Promises Welfare Reforms, Action on Housing Benefits

Claims of weekly benefits of £53 by Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith are about to be challenged. Will the secretary be able to fulfill the claim on the welfare reforms and live up to the public expectations? After Smith presented the reform, he was asked by the BBC Radio 4 whether he could live for £53 a week, an amount which market trader David Bennett had been left to live with. The work and pensions secretary replied he would in case he had to, and an online petition for him to do so followed the same day, chalking some 25,000 signatures. £53 is the equivalent of the lowest rate of jobseekers allowance to those aged under 25.

Cabinet minister Duncan Smith’s weekly pay is £1,600, with travel fares from his Westminster home costing some £20. Some of members of the parliament had earlier tried to live on minimum means; Helen Goodman, the shadow culture minister, tried to keep her weekly spending for food under £18. That amount is what they were left with after paying the so-called bedroom tax. Some years ago, Conservative MP Mathew Parris lived on a benefit for World in Action TV programme.

Duncan Smith insisted that working-age welfare bill would fall, admitting that the overall welfare bill would be increasing, with pensions included. The welfare reforms will be defended on the week of April 1-7. Smith urged bedroom tax critics to take a perspective on the issue. He argued that the practice for funding for extra rooms is gone since individuals are granted the housing benefit to rent privately.

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