Mr Duncan Smith, whose flagship Universal Credit programme begins its phased roll-out today, told Channel 4 News that he “had been made redundant and had to make people redundant.”
“I have been through these experiences and I know what it’s like. I know how tough? this is,” he said.
Universal Credit replaces a bundle of income-based benefits – including JSA, tax credits and housing benefit – and is designed to prevent situations where people can be worse off taking jobs than staying on welfare.
“I want to make sure they [the unemployed] get into work easier and they have that chance to have their self-worth back again,” the work and pensions secretary said.
When asked if the government understood poverty, Mr Duncan Smith, added: “I do understand it, I’ve studied it and I’ve also spent time myself concerned about it.
“And what we’re trying to do is to ensure the system we put in place improve the life chances of people, get them into work faster, because in work you are more likely to get out of poverty.”
Channel 4 News also spoke to Iain Duncan Smith about tax evasion, and controversial proposals that would see the obese stripped of their benefits.