IDS ‘resisting cuts to welfare budget’ – Are they clueless on this?

Josh Barrie writing in The Independent – Iain Duncan Smith the work and Pensions Secretary is “pushing back” against attempts to “salami slice” the welfare budget to deliver the savings pledge, it was reported.

The Tories have said they will find £12bn of welfare savings by 2020 but no agreement has been reached on where the axe will fall.

One possibility is that George Osborne, the Chancellor, could announce that a freeze on increasing welfare payments could be extended beyond 2017 until the end of the parliament. This would be in line with the freeze in ministerial salaries. But it is believed that IDS has for a long time been frustrated by his party’s leadership, who have failed to say publicly where the savings can be made.

Iain Duncan Smith“IDS – witchfinder general”

He fears that the lack of guidance could lead to rushed action, which would pave the way for some very unpopular decisions.

A close ally of IDS said that many key figures had not thought such drastic cuts would have to be actually implemented in government because they would be diluted under a renewed coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

But the unexpected Tory majority has increased uncertainty for Mr Duncan Smith, who is said to be standing up to attempts to take of more of his budget to fund public giveaways.

The ally told The Observer newspaper: “You have two sides of the ledger – the cuts and the giveaways – and people didn’t think they would have to go through with them. IDS was surprised when the cuts were first announced in January, and that tells you where the push-back in the government is on this now.”

A source close to Mr Duncan Smith said that he believed there would be no “salami slicing”, but confirmed he is committed to the £12bn figure.

“He might have wanted agreement on the detail earlier but, as the person whose job it is to see this through, he is committed and believes you can do it through behavioural change,” the source added.

“Whatever the Governments committment – we are committed to suffering it – unfortunately. They are completely lost on this or don’t know how to come clean”