Duncan Smith plans crackdown on benefits for single mothers

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Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith unveils his plans for a radical shake-up of the welfare state today, including a proposal to deny state benefits to single mothers who refuse work or training.

Mr Duncan Smith, who has emerged as a serious contender in the Tory leadership race, says in an interview with The Independent that the Conservatives should tone down their attacks on lone parents but oblige them to work in return for welfare payments when their children reach a certain age. He calls for the tax system to be "rebalanced" because it has placed too heavy a burden on couples with children so that state help is channelled to single parents.

Conservative MPs vote tonight in the re-run first round of the contest and Mr Duncan Smith, who came second on Tuesday, is now the rival most feared by supporters of Michael Portillo, who topped the poll.

Last night Lord Howe of Aberavon, a former Chancellor, warned there would be defections from the party if Tory MPs denied Kenneth Clarke a place on the shortlist of two names for the decisive ballot of the party's 300,000 members.

Lord Howe said Mr Clarke was clearly popular among the public and most activists would feel let down if they could not have a chance to vote for him. "There will be grave discontentment, disillusion and substantial defections from the party," he told BBC Radio 4.