The work and pensions secretary defends the coalition’s welfare reforms, which he says are making people feel “more secure” about the future.
Speaking the day after unemployment figures fell to a five-year low, Iain Duncan Smith is expected to say that the government’s welfare-to-work reforms are working.
Nonetheless, hidden welfare “ghettos” remain, he will say, in reference to the controversial Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street, based on the residents of one street of Birmingham.
Speaking at the Centre for Social Justice on the 10 year anniversary of its launch, Mr Duncan Smith is expected to say that the reforms are being driven by a desire to change people’s lives for the better and to make Britain “great again”.
He will blame opponents of the government’s welfare reforms for doing all they can to misrepresent them – and say that income inequality was the worst for a generation, under Labour.
The truth is that welfare fraud has just gone up, while millions of hard-working families have suffered from tax credit cuts – Frances O’Grady, TUC
“With income inequality under Labour the worst for a generation, whilst the middle-class majority were aware of the problems in poor communities, they remained largely unaware of the true nature of life on some of our estates,” he will say.
“We let these problems be ghettoised as though they were a different country. Even now, for the most part they remain out of sight – meaning people are shocked when they are confronted with a TV programme such as Benefits Street.”
However TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that Mr Duncan Smith’s claims were “ridiculous”.
“Across the country people fear the bedroom tax, and harsh and unfair disability assessments. They are also worried that 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,” she said.
Our real success has been to reframe the argument – challenging a narrative which focuses on how much is being spent on welfare – Iain Duncan Smith
“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.”
Mr Duncan Smith is expected to add: “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,” he is expected to say.
“The purpose for government is not grand but simple: it is that through our economic and welfare changes we will have helped people feel that bit more secure about their futures… feel more hopeful about their children’s lives… and rekindle their pride in their communities, as their neighbours also begin to thrive.”