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Iain Duncan Smith

The Right Honourable
Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Assumed office
12 May 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Yvette Cooper
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
13 September 2001 – 6 November 2003
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by William Hague
Succeeded by Michael Howard
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
15 June 1999 – 13 September 2001
Leader William Hague
Preceded by John Maples
Succeeded by Bernard Jenkin
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
2 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Peter Lilley
Succeeded by David Willetts
Member of Parliament
for Chingford and Woodford Green
Chingford (1992–1997)
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Norman Tebbit
Majority 12,963 (30.1%)
Personal details
Born George Iain Duncan Smith
(1954-04-09) 9 April 1954
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Betsy Fremantle
Children 4
Alma mater University for Foreigners Perugia
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Nickname(s) IDS
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1975–1981
Rank Lieutenant
Unit Scots Guards
Battles/wars The Troubles

George Iain Duncan Smith (born 9 April 1954), often referred to by his initials IDS, is a British Conservative Party politician. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2010, he was previously the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2003. He was first elected to Parliament in 1992 as the MP for Chingford, and he has represented its successor constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green since 1997.

Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh and served in the Scots Guards from 1975 to 1981, seeing tours in Northern Ireland and Rhodesia. He joined the Conservative Party in 1981, and was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1992. Duncan Smith succeeded William Hague as Conservative Leader in 2001, winning the leadership election partly on the support of Margaret Thatcher for his Eurosceptic ideology. Duncan Smith was the first Catholic to serve as a Conservative Leader, and the first to be born in Scotland since Arthur Balfour. In 2010, The Tablet named him one of Britain’s most influential Catholics.[1]

His time as Conservative Leader saw his party fall in opinion polls, and many Conservative MPs came to consider him incapable of winning an election. In 2003 his MPs passed a vote of no confidence in his leadership; he immediately resigned, and was succeeded by Michael Howard. As a backbencher, he founded the centre-right Centre for Social Justice, a think tank independent of the Conservative Party, and became a published novelist, though his novel The Devil's Tune was savaged by critics. On 12 May 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Duncan Smith to serve in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.


  • Early life and family 1
  • Education 2
    • Controversy over qualifications 2.1
  • Military service 3
  • Early political career 4
  • Leader of the Conservative Party 5
    • Problems as leader 5.1
  • Return to the backbenches 6
  • Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 7
    • Pension Age 7.1
    • Universal Credit 7.2
    • Work Programme 7.3
    • Winter Fuel Repayments 7.4
    • Use of statistics 7.5
    • Disability benefit reform 7.6
    • Party relationship 7.7
  • Political views 8
    • Views on marriage 8.1
    • Views on immigration 8.2
  • Personal life 9
  • References 10
  • Bibliography 11
  • External links 12

Early life and family

Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1954. He is the son of W. G. G. Duncan Smith, a decorated Royal Air Force flying ace of World War II, and Pamela Summers, a ballerina. They were married in 1946. He is a descendant of Adam Duncan, the admiral who defeated the Dutch Navy at the Battle of Camperdown in 1797.[2]

Duncan Smith's maternal great-grandmother was a Japanese woman living in the then Peking, Ellen Oshey, who married Pamela's grandfather, merchant seaman Captain Samuel Lewis Shaw, from Ireland.[3]

Other relations include Canadian CBC wartime broadcaster Peter Stursberg, who was born in China, and whose 2002 book No Foreign Bones in China records the story of the Anglo-Japanese couple, and his son, current CBC vice-president Richard Stursberg.[4]


Duncan Smith was educated at what is now St. Peter's RC Secondary School, Solihull, until the age of 14,[5] then at HMS Conway, a Merchant Navy training school on the Isle of Anglesey (where he played rugby union in the position of fly-half alongside Clive Woodward at centre) until he was 18. In 1975 he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Scots Guards.[6]

Controversy over qualifications

According to the BBC, his biography on the Conservative Party website and his entry in Who's Who originally stated that he had studied at the University of Perugia in Italy. A BBC investigation in 2002 found this statement to be untrue.[7] In response to the BBC story, Duncan Smith's office stated that he had in fact attended the Università per Stranieri, a different institution in Perugia, for a year.[7] He did not complete his course of study, sit exams, or gain any qualifications there. Duncan Smith's biography, on the Conservative Party website, also stated that he was "educated at Dunchurch College of Management" but his office later confirmed that he did not gain any qualifications there either, that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total.[7] Dunchurch was the former staff college for GEC Marconi, for whom Duncan Smith worked in the 1980s.[7]

Military service

He was commissioned into the Scots Guards as a second lieutenant on 28 June 1975, with the service number 500263.[8] He was promoted to lieutenant on 28 June 1977,[9] and retired from the military on 2 April 1981, moving to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers.[10]

During his service he served in Northern Ireland and the region known as Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe),[11] where he was aide-de-camp to Major-General Sir John Acland, commander of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force monitoring the ceasefire during elections.[12]

Early political career

At the 1987 general election Duncan Smith contested the constituency of Bradford West, where the incumbent Labour Party MP Max Madden defeated him . At the 1992 general election he stood in the London constituency of Chingford (where the Conservative MP, Norman Tebbit, had announced his retirement), and won election to the House of Commons.

A committed Eurosceptic, Duncan Smith became a constant thorn in the side of Prime Minister John Major's government of 1992 to 1997, opposing Major's pro-European agenda at the time (something that would often be raised during his own subsequent leadership when he called for the party to unite behind him).

Duncan Smith remained on the backbenches until 1997, when the new Conservative leader William Hague brought him into the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Social Security Secretary. Duncan Smith had nearly lost his seat in the 1997 general election: boundary changes saw his constituency renamed Chingford and Woodford Green and his final majority of 14,938 slashed to 5,714. Duncan Smith realised the dangers that he and neighbouring Conservative MPs faced, so redoubled his efforts: "We spent the final week of the campaign working my seat as if it was a marginal. I held on but everywhere around me went."[13] (Notable Conservatives defeated in North London included Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, Education Minister Robin Squire, Foreign Office Minister Sir Nicholas Bonsor, 4th Baronet, Sir John Michael Gorst, Sir Rhodes Boyson, Sir Michael Neubert, Ian Twinn, Hartley Booth, Hugh Dykes and Vivian Bendall.) In 1999, Duncan Smith replaced John Maples as Shadow Defence Secretary.

Leader of the Conservative Party

William Hague resigned after the Labour Party's victory in the 2001 general election. In September 2001, Duncan Smith won the Conservative Party leadership election. He had initially been seen as an outsider candidate, but his support was bolstered when Margaret Thatcher publicly announced her support for him. His victory in the contest was helped by the fact that his opponent in the final vote of party members was Kenneth Clarke, whose strong support for the European Union was at odds with the views of much of the party.[14]

As a mark of respect for the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, the announcement of Duncan Smith's victory in the leadership contest was delayed until 13 September 2001. In November 2001, he was one of the first politicians to call for an invasion of Iraq and held talks in Washington, DC, with senior US officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.[15]

In the 2002 and 2003 local elections, the only elections in which Duncan Smith led the party, the Conservatives gained 238 and 568 extra seats on local councils, respectively, primarily in England.

Problems as leader

In 2002, Michael Crick on the TV programme Newsnight caused some embarrassment by finding inaccuracies in the education section of Duncan Smith's curriculum vitae.

The 2002 Conservative Party conference saw an attempt to turn Duncan Smith's lack of charisma into a positive attribute, with his much-quoted line, "do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man". The line was as much derided as it was admired. During PMQs, Labour backbenchers would raise their fingers to their lips and say "shush" when he was speaking. The following year, Duncan Smith's conference speech appeared to have abandoned this technique in favour of an aggressive hard-man approach that few found convincing, even if the party members in the hall punctuated the speech with several ovations. The most remembered sound bite from the speech was his, "the quiet man is here to stay, and he's turning up the volume."

Duncan Smith stated in December 2002 that he intended to be party leader for a "very long time to come." This did little to quell the speculation in Westminster regarding his future. On 21 February 2003, The Independent newspaper published a story saying that a number of MPs were attempting to start the process of petitioning for a vote of no confidence in Duncan Smith, as many Conservative MPs considered him to be unelectable. Amid speculation that rebel MPs were seeking to undermine him, Duncan Smith called on the party to "Unite or die"[16]

Despite the gains made in the 2003 local elections, Crispin Blunt, the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry resigned. He called Duncan Smith's leadership a "handicap" as he had "failed to make the necessary impact on the electorate" and said that he should be replaced.[17]

These worries came to a head in October 2003. Michael Crick revealed that he had compiled embarrassing evidence, this time of dubious salary claims Duncan Smith made on behalf of his wife that were paid out of the public purse from September 2001 to December 2002. The ensuing scandal, known as "Betsygate", weakened his already tenuous position.[18]

After months of speculation over a leadership challenge, Duncan Smith called upon critics within his party to gather enough support to trigger a no-confidence motion or get behind him.[19] A no confidence vote was called on Wednesday 23 October 2003, which Duncan Smith lost by 90 votes to 75.[19] He stepped down eight days later, with Michael Howard being confirmed as his successor.

Return to the backbenches

Iain Duncan Smith at Nightingale House, London, in March 2010 in his role as Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice

After his term as party leader, Duncan Smith established the

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Norman Tebbit
Member of Parliament
for Chingford

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Chingford and Woodford Green

Political offices
Preceded by
Harriet Harman
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
Succeeded by
David Willetts
Preceded by
John Maples
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Bernard Jenkin
Preceded by
William Hague
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Michael Howard
Preceded by
Yvette Cooper
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Hague
Leader of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Michael Howard
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by
Michael Fallon
as Secretary of State for Defense
as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hunt
as Secretary of State for Health
Order of precedence in Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Michael Fallon
as Secretary of State for Defense
as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hunt
as Secretary of State for Health

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Tempest, Matthew. "Duncan Smith's secret samurai past", The Guardian (UK). 3 September 2001.
  4. ^
  5. ^ H2G2. BBC (1 January 1970); retrieved 15 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Iain Duncan-Smith", Britannica Online entry by Peter Kellner, 20 February 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46656. p. 10257. 12 August 1975. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 47257. p. 8404. 27 June 1977. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 48589. p. 5769. 16 April 1981. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "The contradictory world of Iain Duncan Smith",, 9 October 2001.
  13. ^ Snowdon 2010, p. 2.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Rupert Cornwell, "Campaign Against Terrorism: Duncan Smith calls for pressure on Iraq", The Independent, 30 November 2001.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Tory frontbencher quits post, BBC News 2 May 2003
  18. ^ Andrew Sparrow and Benedict Brogan, "Aide's email warning of risk to IDS triggered investigation", The Daily Telegraph, 13 October 2003.
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Duncan Smith unveils details of welfare 'contract', BBC
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b
  36. ^ "The moral certainty of Iain Duncan Smith", James Landale, BBC News, 5 September 2013 [1]
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ "IDS' emergency jobseeker law sparks civil liberties outrage", Ian Dunt, [2], 19 March 2013 [3]
  41. ^
  42. ^ Iain Duncan Smith calls for wealthy pensioners to hand back benefits, The Guardian, 28 April 2013, retrieved 30 April 2013
  43. ^ Michele Hanson, I tried to hand back my winter fuel payment, The Guardian, 30 April 2013, retrieved 30 April 2013
  44. ^ Dame Joan Bakewell: 'I tried to send benefit back', BBC News, 11 October 2010, retrieved 30 April 2013
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ "Food bank boss blasts Iain Duncan Smith over claims rise in demand is not down to cuts", Daily Mirror, 11 August 2013 [4]
  50. ^ a b
  51. ^ a b
  52. ^ Susan Archibald
  53. ^
  54. ^ "Fury as Tory welfare police order kidney dialysis patient Paul Mickleburgh back to work", Daily Record (Glasgow), 31 May 2012 [5]
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ Iain Duncan Smith rejected offer of Justice secretary to finish welfare reform. The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved on 15 August 2013.
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^ Andrew Porter, Migrants 'take the jobs from young Britons', The Daily Telegraph (London)
  70. ^ Address by Iain Duncan Smith at the opening session of the FAES campus,; accessed 9 May 2015.
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^


Duncan Smith has been reported to support both Tottenham Hotspur,[74] where he holds a season ticket,[75] and Aston Villa.[76]

In 2005, his wealth was estimated at £1 million, much of which has apparently been acquired by after-dinner speaking. An "audience with Duncan Smith", however, which was held at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall, attracted an audience of only 67 people.[73]

He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Fremantle, daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe, in 1982. The couple have four children,[71] and live in a country house belonging to his father-in-law's estate in Swanbourne, Buckinghamshire.[72]

Personal life

Duncan Smith has said that tighter immigration controls are vital if Britain is to avoid "losing another generation to dependency and hopelessness". In a speech delivered in Spain he said that only immigrants with "something to offer" should be allowed into the country and that too often foreign workers purporting to be skilled take low-skilled jobs that could be occupied by British school leavers. According to the Daily Telegraph's analysis, the speech contained a warning to David Cameron "that a 'slack' attitude to immigration will result in the Coalition repeating the mistakes made under Labour, when the vast majority of new jobs generated before the recession were taken by immigrants". Duncan Smith believes that some companies are using immigration as "an excuse to import labour to take up posts which could be filled by people already in Britain". He says Britain needs an immigration system that gives the unemployed "a level playing field". "If we do not get this right then we risk leaving more British citizens out of work, and the most vulnerable group who will be the most affected are young people," he said.[69][70]

Views on immigration

In late April 2012, Duncan Smith signalled his support for same-sex marriage on the basis that it would promote stability in relationships.[68]

Duncan Smith said in February 2011 that it was "absurd and damaging" for ministers not to extol the benefits of marriage for fear of stigmatising those who choose not to marry. Duncan Smith said: "We do a disservice to society if we ignore the evidence which shows that stable families tend to be associated with better outcomes for children." He added: "There are few more powerful tools for promoting stability than the institution of marriage." He added that "The financial costs of family breakdown are incredibly high. But what is most painful to see is the human cost – the wasted potential, the anti-social behaviour, and the low self-esteem."[67]

In December 2010 Duncan Smith studied a state-sponsored relationship education programme in Norway, under which couples were forced to "think again" and confront the reality of divorce before formally separating. The policy has been credited with reversing Norway’s trend for rising divorce rates and halting the decline of marriage in the country over the past 15 years. Duncan Smith said he was keen to explore ways in which similar approaches could be encouraged in Britain. Officials pointed out that such a programme would be expensive but that an approach could reduce the long-term cost of family breakdown, which has been estimated at up to £100 billion. Duncan Smith said couples in Norway were able to "work through what is going to happen with their children", which has "a very big effect on their thinking". "Many of them think again about what they are going to embark on once they really understand the consequences of their actions subsequently," he said.[66]

Views on marriage

During Duncan Smith's leadership campaign in 2001, he changed his stance on the now-repealed Section 28 from opposing repeal to supporting it.[64] In 2003, Duncan Smith's decision to compromise on repeal of Section 28 was described as "illogical" and "messy" by other Conservative MPs.[65]

Iain Duncan Smith has become significantly involved in issues of family and social breakdown. He has stated his support for early interventions to reduce and prevent social breakdown.[63]

Political views

In the September 2012 Cabinet reshuffle, Duncan Smith was offered the job at the Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.[62]

Party relationship

In August 2015, he was ridiculed after the DWP admitted publishing fake testimonies of claimants enjoying their benefits cuts. Further preposterous stories were spread via Twitter, one 'claimant' saying he had been motivated to regrow his leg and another saying he could now live on berries and roadkill.[57] Later the same month, publication of statistics showed 2,380 people died in a 3-year period shortly after a work capability assessment declared them fit for work[58] leading Jeremy Corbyn to call for Duncan Smith's resignation.[59] At his party's conference in October 2015, he said in a speech about the sick and disabled “we won’t lift you out of poverty by simply transferring taxpayers’ money to you. With our help, you’ll work your way out of poverty,” and criticised the current system system which he said "makes doctors ask a simplistic question: are you too sick to work at all? If the answer is yes, they’re signed off work – perhaps for ever.”[60]

On 3 July 2015, a group of over "70 leading Catholics" wrote to Duncan Smith asking him to rewrite his policies to make them more in line with Catholic and Christian values. The writers stated that whilst they believed he wanted to improve lives, they believed his policies were having the opposite effect and they asked him to rethink and abandon further damaging cuts.[56]

In June 2015, a judge ruled that there had been “breach of duty on the part of the secretary of state to act without unreasonable delay in determination of the claimant’s claims for PIP,” the replacement for disability living allowance. One of the claimants, an ME sufferer with visual impairment was twice required to travel to attend an assessment –a request which the judge described as irrational.[55]

Duncan Smith's department had previously announced on the 2012 United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities forced work for disabled people who received welfare benefits in order to "Improve disabled peoples chances of getting work by mandatory employment". The founder of the Susan Archibald Centre stated that the mandatory employment of people with disabilities is a breach of article 27/2 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[52] The Guardian noted that from this United Nations appointed day onwards people with disabilities and illnesses ranging from cancer to paralysis to mental health may be forced by the U.K government to work for free or else they can risk being stripped of up to 70% of their welfare benefits.[53] His department had previously been subject to criticism for trying to force one of the world’s longest surviving kidney dialysis patients with 33 years of renal treatment, four failed transplants and 14 heart attacks back to work.[54]

In September 2013 leaked documents showed that Duncan Smith was looking at "how to make it harder for sick and disabled people to claim benefits". Duncan Smith was advised that it would be illegal to introduce secondary legislation, which doesn't require parliament's approval, in order to give job centre staff more powers to make those who were sick and claiming Employment and Support Allowance undertake more tests to prove that they were making a serious effort to come off benefits and find a job. The powers being discussed also included "forcing sick and disabled people to take up offers of work." DWP staff would also have the power to strip claimants with serious, but time-limited health conditions, of benefits if they refuse the offer of work.[35]

Disability benefit reform

In August 2013, Duncan Smith was accused of being disingenuous by the CEO of The Trussell Trust, which now provides foodbanks in the UK, when he attempted to use the Trussell Trust to support his view that the reason behind "the explosion in demand" for their services was not due to the effect of recent benefit cuts but rather due to a growth in awareness that such services exist.[49] On World Food Day in October 2013 the Trussell Trust called for an inquiry to investigate the tripling in numbers of people using their food banks in the past year and the rise in U.K hunger and food poverty which they describe as now reaching "scandalous levels".[50] Oxfam commented: "These figures lay bare the shocking scale of destitution, hardship and hunger in the UK. It is completely unacceptable that in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet, the number of people turning to foodbanks has tripled."[50] According to the BBC, the number of people given three days food by the Trussell Trust increased from 40,000 in 2009–10 to 913,000 by 2013–14.[51] A letter signed by 27 bishops earlier in 2014 blamed "cutbacks and failures in the benefits system" for driving people to food banks.[51]

Duncan Smith's defence of his department was that "You cannot absolutely prove those two things are connected – you cannot disprove what I said. I believe this to be right."[47] This led Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and former chief economist at the Cabinet Office, to accuse the Conservative Party of going beyond spin and the normal political practice of cherry picking of figures to the act of actually "making things up" with respect to the impact of government policy on employment and other matters.[48]

In July 2013 Duncan Smith was found by Andrew Dilnot CBE, Head of the UK Statistics Authority, to have broken the Code of Practice for Official Statistics for his and the DWP's use of figures[45] in support of government policies.[46] Dilnot also stated that, following an earlier complaint about the handling of statistics by Duncan Smith's department, he had previously been told, "that senior DWP officials had reiterated to their staff the seriousness of their obligations under the Code of Practice and that departmental procedures would be reviewed".

Use of statistics

In late April 2013, Duncan Smith called for wealthier people to voluntarily return winter fuel payments, given to all pensioners regardless of wealth, to help reduce the strain on public finances.[42] This suggestion prompted much media comment, with some wealthier pensioners pointing out that they had already tried to return their payments, for this same reason, but had this offer refused by the government because there is no mechanism in place to receive returned payments (Dame Joan Bakewell had tried to do the same three years earlier).[43][44]

Winter Fuel Repayments

After the "workfare" element of this programmed was successfully challenged in the courts, Duncan Smith sought to re-establish the legality of the scheme through emergency and retrospective legislation. Legal experts were said to be "outraged" that the bill applied retrospectively, breaking a key standard of British law.[40] In 2014, the High Court ruled that the retrospective nature of the legislation interfered with the "right to a fair trial" under Article Six of the Convention on Human Rights.[41]

In June 2011, Duncan Smith announced that earlier welfare-to-work programs would be replaced with a single Work Programme, which included incentives for private sector service providers to help the unemployed find long term employment.[39] Further developments included the requirement for some long term recipients of Job Seekers Allowance to undertake unpaid full-time work placements with private companies.

Work Programme

The Department for Work and Pensions had said that 1 million people would be placed on the new Universal Credit benefits system by April 2014, yet by October 2014 only 15,000 were assigned to UC. Duncan Smith said that a final delivery date would not be set for this, declaring “Arbitrary dates and deadlines are the enemy of secure delivery.”[37] In 2014, it was revealed that his department was employing debt collectors to retrieve overpaid benefits, the overpayment purely down to calculation mistakes by HMRC.[38]

In September 2013, Duncan Smith's department cancelled a week of "celebrations" to mark the impact of enhanced benefit sanctions. Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS unions commented: "It is distasteful in the extreme and grossly offensive that the DWP would even consider talking about celebrating cutting people's benefits."[35] In the same month, Duncan Smith's department was subject to an "excoriating" National Audit Office report. The department he runs was accused of having "weak management, ineffective control and poor governance; a fortress mentality, a "good news" reporting culture, a lack of transparency, inadequate financial control, and ineffective oversight" as well as wasting 34 million pounds on inadequate computer systems.[36]

On 1 April 2013, Duncan Smith said he could live on £53 per week as Work and Pensions Secretary, after a benefits claimant told the BBC he had £53 per week after housing costs.[34]

He also argued that a proposed £26,000-a-year benefits cap, would not lead to a rise in homelessness or child poverty "The reality is that with £26,000 a year, it’s very difficult to believe that families will be plunged into poverty – children or adults," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "Capping at average earnings of £35,000 before tax and £26,000 after, actually means that we are going to work with families make sure that they will find a way out."[32] but added there would need to be "discretionary measures".[32] Duncan Smith led the governments legislation in the House of Commons in January 2013 to cap most benefit increases at 1%, a real terms cut.[33]

The next phase of welfare reform announced by Duncan Smith in late 2011 required benefits claimants with part-time incomes below a certain threshold to search for additional work or risk losing access to their benefits. "We are already requiring people on out of work benefits to do more to prepare for and look for work," he said. "Now we are looking to change the rules for those who are in-work and claiming benefits, so that once they have overcome their barriers and got into work, in time they can reduce their dependency or come off benefits altogether."[30] He said that benefits were not a route out of child poverty but hundreds of thousands of children could be lifted out of child poverty if one of their parents were to work at least a 35-hour week at the national minimum wage.[31]

He also announced a far more radical series of reforms intended to simplify the benefits and tax credits scheme into a single payment to be known as Universal Credit. A major aim of welfare reform was to ensure that low earners would always be better off in employment. "After years of piecemeal reform the current welfare system is complex and unfair," said Duncan Smith, citing examples of people under the existing system that would see very little incremental income from increasing their working hours due to withdrawal of other benefits.[28] Outlining the scheme in more detail in November 2010, Duncan Smith promised "targeted work activity for those who need to get used to the habits of work" and sanctions, including the possible removal of benefits for up to three years for those who refused to work. He said welfare reform would benefit all those who "play by the rules" and ensure "work always pays more" by easing the rate at which benefits are withdrawn as income rises.[29]

Universal Credit

In June 2010, Duncan Smith said that the Government would encourage people to work for longer by making it illegal for companies to force staff to give up work at 65, and by bringing forward the planned rises in the age for claiming the state pension. Duncan Smith told The Daily Telegraph that pension reforms were intended to "reinvigorate retirement". "People are living longer and healthier lives than ever, and the last thing we want is to lose their skills and experience from the workplace due to an arbitrary age limit," he said. "Now is absolutely the right time to live up to our responsibility to reform our outdated pension system and to take action where the previous government failed to do so. If Britain is to have a stable, affordable pension system, people need to work longer, but we will reward their hard work with a decent state pension that will enable them to enjoy quality of life in their retirement."[27]

Pension Age

Outlining the scale of the problem, Duncan Smith said almost five million people were on unemployment benefits, 1.4 million of whom had been receiving support for nine or more of the last 10 years. In addition, 1.4 million under-25s were neither working nor in full-time education. He said; "This picture is set against a backdrop of 13 years of continuously increasing expenditure, which has outstripped inflation ... Worse than the growing expense though, is the fact that the money is not even making the impact we want it to ... A system that was originally designed to support the poorest in society is now trapping them in the very condition it was supposed to alleviate."[26] It was also announced that Duncan Smith will chair a new Cabinet Committee, involving Cabinet members from the Treasury, Home Office, Health, and Communities and Local Government departments, to tackle the underlying causes of poverty.

Following the 2010 general election, the Conservative Party formed coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, with David Cameron as Prime Minister. Cameron appointed Duncan Smith to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with responsibility for seeing through changes to the welfare state.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

In September 2006 he was one of fourteen authors of a report concerning Anti-Semitism in Britain. He was also one of the only early supporters[25] of the Iraq surge policy. In September 2007, he called for Britain to withdraw from the war in Afghanistan and to fight in the war in Iraq indefinitely. In his 2009 Conservative Party Conference speech, Conservative Party leader David Cameron signalled that Duncan Smith might serve in his Cabinet, with responsibility for social justice, should he be called upon to form an administration after the next general election.

Duncan Smith was re-elected comfortably in Chingford and Woodford Green at the 2005 general election, almost doubling his majority, and remained a backbencher for the Conservative Party. He has been Member of Parliament for Chingford and Woodford Green since 1997, having succeeded Norman Tebbit as MP for the predecessor constituency of Chingford at the 1992 general election.[24]

On 7 December 2005, Duncan Smith was appointed Chairman of the Social Justice Policy Group, which was facilitated by the Centre for Social Justice. Duncan Smith's Deputy Chair was Debbie Scott, the Chief Executive of the charity Tomorrow's People. The group released two major reports, "Breakdown Britain" and "Breakthrough Britain". "Breakdown Britain"[22] was a three hundred thousand word document that analysed what was going wrong in the areas of Economic Dependence and Unemployment, Family Breakdown, Addiction, Educational Failure, Indebtedness, and the Voluntary Sector. "Breakthrough Britain"[23] recommended almost two hundred policy ideas using broadly the same themes. On their website the group said that the Government has so far taken on sixteen of the recommendations, and the Conservatives twenty-nine. Of those twenty-nine, ten were unanimously rejected by the European Court of Justice, as they deemed the proposals "unfit for a modern democracy" and "verging on frighteningly authoritarian". The ECJ's comments were dismissed by IDS, stating that there had been "no such talks" between them, and provoked attacks on the European Union by some members of the party.

[21]) He also served under Michael Howard on the Conservative Party's advisory council, along with John Major, William Hague and Kenneth Clarke.[20]

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