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Iain Duncan Smith MP

Work and Pensions Secretary

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Stories involving Iain Duncan Smith

Duncan Smith slams EU rules on winter fuel

Rules that allow winter fuel payments that go abroad to expats are “absurd and wrong”, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said.

Iain Duncan Smith told MailOnline that the payments were to help pensioners in Britain.

“It’s absurd and offensive that taxpayers are funding these payments for people who have retired to the Mediterranean and enjoy warmer weather,” he said.

New legislation on who can receive the payments and a temperature test will come into force in the new year.

This will mean people in Portugal, Spain, France, Greece, Malta and Cyprus will lose the right to claim from September 2015.

Mr Duncan Smith also criticised the European Union for holding back attempts to deal with the issue.

“The European Union has frustrated our attempts to address this issue,” he said.

A total of 135,000 people in 30 countries currently claim the benefit.


IDS urges change poverty indicator change

Iain Duncan Smith has called for a change to child poverty measures, insisting the UK must move away from the "narrow focus" of using only family income as an indicator.

Launching a government consultation at a children's centre in Deptford, the Work and Pensions Secretary outlined plans to broaden the indicators to include worklessness, education and family breakdown.

"It is widely understood that the current relative income measure by itself is not providing an accurate picture of child poverty," he said.

"Having such a narrow focus can drive perverse decisions, rather than asking whether a sustainable difference has been made to a family's life. This is about transforming their outcomes so they do not slip back below the 'poverty line'."

But Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, told The Independent that "the relative income poverty measure is the single best indicator of whether 'we're all in this together'".

Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Stephen Timms this morning said he had no problem with the Government looking at other indicators, but suggested ministers were seeking to distract people from a rise in child poverty because of Coalition policies. 

"What they mustn’t do is try and obfuscate what is actually happening about poverty at the moment. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that child poverty is going to rise by 400,000 over the course of this Parliament," he told BBC News.


No 10 dismisses means-testing

Number 10 has dismissed claims that the Government is considering means-testing universal benefits for pensioners such as the winter fuel payment.

Following reports in the Sun of a split between the Prime Minister and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith on whether to halt benefits for wealthy pensioners, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "[The Prime Minister] stands by what's in the Coalition Agreement." She refused to speculate on whether there might be plans to cut the benefits after 2015 as part of the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

Mr Duncan Smith wants benefits such as winter fuel payments to be withheld from wealthier pensioners, but a source close to the minister told the paper the Prime Minister refuses to do so as it would break one of his election pledges.

The source said: “The PM is refusing all logic on this because he has boxed himself into a political corner and doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Labour’s attack."

Speaking this afternoon, Conservative MP Robert Halfon said the Government should "stop giving pension hand-outs to the rich”, arguing it was morally wrong that lower-earners subsidise well-off pensioners.

The Sun has thrown its support behind the Work and Pensions Secretary with a campaign named 'Ditch Handouts To The Rich', saying taxpayers' money is being wasted.


IDS cards legality quizzed by former minister

A former employment minister has questioned the legality of introducing pre-paid cards for those on benefits.

Mark Hoban raised concerns about Iain Duncan Smith’s announcement yesterday, telling a fringe event: “I think this card has been looked at quite often… there may be some legal issues around using it.”


Child benefit letters 'soon'

Millions of parents will receive letters from HMRC detailing how their child benefit is to be cut. Households where at least one person earns more than £50,000 will be affected by the cut.


Addicts to lose benefits - IDS

Drug addicts and alcoholics will be denied benefits unless they enter treatment and rehabilitation programs, Iain Duncan-Smith will announce today. The Work and Pensions Secretary will tell an Alcoholics Anonymous event in Parliament that the changes will mark a shift from "passive" to "active" intervention.