8 Apr 2013

Iain Duncan Smith petition delivered to DWP

As the petition calling for Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week reaches nearly half a million signatures, the man who started it says it has sent “a powerful message to the government”.

Ian Duncan Smith (Getty)

A week after Iain Duncan Smith said he could live on £53 a week if he “had to”, a petition calling for him to do so will be delivered to the Department of Work and Pensions on Monday morning.

Mr Duncan Smith has already dismissed the petition as “a complete stunt”.

Musician and part-time shop worker Dominic Aversano, from Twickenham, near London, started the petition on campaigning website Change.org.

He will deliver the petition to Caxton House in Tothill Street with disability campaigners who say they are at the sharp end of welfare reforms.

Mr Aversano, 28, said: “When I started this petition I never imagined the level of support it would get, and the amount of encouragement people would give me.

It has sent a powerful message to this government, showing the level of opposition to their vicious welfare cuts. Dominic Aversano

“It has sent a powerful message to this government, showing the level of opposition to their vicious welfare cuts.

“Online petitions have become a powerful democratic tool outside traditional political institutions and can turn the tables on those in power.

“Iain Duncan Smith started the week dismissing the suffering of the poor, then he called this petition a ‘stunt’.

“It’s now nearly half a million strong and it’s telling that he continues to ignore such an enormous outpouring of anger and disapproval.”

Read more: Could you live on £53 a week?

Living ‘in poverty’

Protester Heather Simpson, 46, from Battersea said: “My husband is a nursery worker but his low salary means we are forced to claim housing benefit.

“As a wheelchair user the housing association provided me with a three bedroom house, and now we’re going to be hit by the bedroom tax.

“I signed the petition because I want Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 per week so that in future he might not be so quick to dismiss the challenges faced by the people living in poverty.”

Brie Rogers Lowery, UK director of Change.org said: “This is a remarkable campaign. It’s far and away the largest and fastest growing petition in the history of Change.org in the UK and is a clear example of how social media has put the power to shift political debate into the hands of the people.

“Anyone, anywhere can come to Change.org and start a campaign as powerful as the one Dominic launched last week.”