Peter Hoskin

Fighting talk from IDS

Fighting talk from IDS
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Iain Duncan Smith is on a roll, and the roll continues with his interview on Straight Talk with Andrew Neil this weekend. Supporters of welfare reform will hear plenty to encourage them, even if only on a rhetorical level. Duncan Smith discuses how the fiscal climate makes this a "once in a generation opportunity and chance to change [welfare] now," and how Beveridge's original intentions have been subverted by a system which traps people out of work. But the most reassuring segment, by far, is this:

"I, well, certainly, you know, I’ll be honest with you, there was certainly a discussion about that, everything was in the discussion, but my view about this is, I think things like freezing benefits across the board is a pointless exercise.  Because what you do is you hurt the most vulnerable but you don’t reform the system.  My view about this is that we need to reform the way those benefits are paid and you’ll get much more out of that because you’ll make people more productive.  But freezing benefits just puts a disproportionate amount of the burden of this deficit reduction programme on actually the poorest.  And so we came to an agreement, George Osborne, he was very good about that, we discussed it, I made the case about it, he agreed with that and that was taken off the agenda."

Why reassuring? Well, because it implies that the Treasury will give IDS a proper shot at implementing his benefit reforms. And that, as we've said on Coffee House before now, is certainly a good thing.