Live updates

Universal credit scheme now considered as 'reset'

Iain Duncan Smith's universal credit scheme has been given a unique classification in an annual progress report issued by the Government.

Although many of the projects are listed as being "exempt" from publishing a green, red or amber risk (most citing the Freedom of Information Act as the reason), the universal credit scheme is the only one to be listed as "Reset".

During 2013, the Programme was reset, culminating in the revised plans announced on 5 December 2013.

– Major Projects Authority annual report 2014

The lack of transparency was highlighted by The Independent, which claimed the Major Project Authority had rated universal credit as “red”, signifying that it is “unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget without urgent remedial action”.

Iain Duncan Smith 'vetoes universal credit report'

Iain Duncan Smith has successfully prevented the publication of a "damning" report into his universal credit scheme, according to The Independent.

Mr Duncan Smith insisted three months ago that at no stage had his department tried to sweep universal credit issues “under the carpet”. Credit: PA

As part of its drive to increase transparency, the Government published the progress of around 200 projects today, rating each on a risk scale of green, red or amber.

But today's Independent front page claims universal credit was "the only project not to get a rating".

The progress report represented £400bn of public spending.

Advertisement

Welfare reforms gave people 'incentive' to take jobs

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will credit Chancellor George Osborne for helping to create 1.7 million jobs since the election but will add that welfare reforms have also played a part in the current level of employment.

Whilst others have questioned and puzzled over the record employment Britain is now seeing, as the Work and Pensions Secretary I have long believed that the strength of our labour market would both drive Britain's great economic recovery, and increase as a result.

First, this Government created the conditions for growth, and gave businesses the freedom and confidence to create jobs.

Second, we drove a programme of welfare reform where every change was designed to get Britain back to work - giving people previously left to languish out of work the skills and the incentive to take those jobs.

– Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Govt's welfare reforms helped 'get UK back to work'

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will claim that the Government's package of welfare reforms have helped "get Britain back to work".

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Mr Duncan Smith will say in a speech in London that the strength of the labour market is evidence that benefit reforms are also having an impact by boosting economic activity.

He will also accuse the former Labour government of trapping people in welfare dependency and robbing them of the drive to go to work, while claiming his reforms have given jobless people the incentive to seek and take employment.

Mr Duncan Smith will say that changes to benefits have played a crucial part in "creating a stable economy matched by a strong society where people are ready and capable of work".

A raft of welfare reforms have been implemented in the last year, including the so-called "bedroom tax", the introduction of Personal Independence Payments for disabled people and the imposition of the £500-a-week benefit cap.

Govt launches child poverty strategy consultation

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has released for consultation the Government's draft strategy to tackle child poverty over the next three years.

The strategy reiterates the Government's commitment to end child poverty by 2020 and promises to "tackle poverty at its source".

The new document lists a range of existing policies which might help children living in poverty, including:

  • Reforming the welfare system through Universal Credit
  • Providing free school meals for all infant school children from September 2014
  • Cutting tax for 25 million people by increasing the personal tax allowance and cutting income tax for those on the minimum wage by almost two thirds
  • Reducing water costs by capping water bills of low-income families with three or more children on a water meter
  • Reducing fuel costs by reducing the typical energy bill next year by around £50 on average

'Controversial' changes to poverty definition on hold

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's controversial plans to change the definition of poverty have been put hold with the Department of Work and Pensions due to put forward a strategy to tackle child poverty instead.

Iain Duncan-Smith's plans to introduce a new definition and targets for child poverty have been blocked by George Osborne. Credit: PA

Unconfirmed reports suggest the Government's three-year strategy includes radical plans to cut water, food and fuel bills for low-income families as well as measure to tackle "worklessness" in the poorest households.

In an joint Guardian article with Chancellor George Osborne, Mr Duncan Smith said the Conservatives remained "committed to introducing better measures of child poverty - measures that drive the right action to bring about a real change in children's lives now and in the future.

Under Labour, "the wrong measures based on inadequate data and simplistic analysis drive misguided and ineffective policy", the pair added.

Advertisement

Labour: 20,000 tenants wrongly charged 'bedroom tax'

The Labour party is claiming more than 20,000 councils tenants have been wrongly paying the so-called "bedroom tax" because of a Government error.

Labour claims thousands of tenants have been wrongly paying the so-called "bedroom tax." Credit: Press Association

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves says that 194 councils out of 346 who replied to a Freedom of Information request showed that 21,500 people have overpaid.

The coalition says it is working on fixing the loophole which is causing the errors.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith challenges Labour's figures, claiming the amount of tenants who have overpaid was likely to be around 5,000.

IDS on tackling the culture of Benefits Street

The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said Channel 4 programme Benefits Street reflects "a culture in which people have kind of given up in some cases on the idea of legitimate work...and education as a way out of poverty and difficulty".

Speaking to ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen, he added: "The system we have created over many years as politicians has created the kind of perverse choices that people make in Benefits Street and others.

"I want to change the system so the choices they make are positive".

Changes to benefits have made people 'fear future cuts'

Cuts and freezes to benefits have made people "fear future cuts" and penalised hard-working taxpayers who have fallen on hard times, according to one union.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady also dismissed claims reforms have left people more secure as "ridiculous":

Iain Duncan Smith's claim to have made people feel more secure through his cuts to the welfare safety net is ridiculous.

Across the country people fear the bedroom tax, and harsh and unfair disability assessments. They are worried however hard they have worked and contributed, they will soon be made to wait five weeks before receiving any benefit if they lose their job.

The truth is that welfare fraud has just gone up, while millions of hard-working families have suffered from tax credit cuts and the child benefit freeze, and a whole new generation now fear future cuts to help for young people.

– TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady

Real success has been to 'reframe the argument'

Iain Duncan Smith is expected to praise reforms to the benefits system, arguing the real success has been to "reframe the argument" away from the amount spent to the "difference it makes".

The work and pension's secretary is expected to accuse opponents to his much delayed Universal Credit of "overlooking the real question":

Our real success has been to reframe the argument - challenging a narrative beloved of the left, which focuses so exclusively on how much is being spent on welfare that it risks overlooking the real question ... that it is not about how much goes into the benefit system, but what difference it makes to people at the other end.

– Iain Duncan Smith
Load more updates