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UK Politics

Iain Duncan Smith: BBC is 'bigger opponent' than Labour over welfare reform

Secretary for Work and Pensions attacks corporation's allegedly negative coverage of benefits changes

Iain Duncan Smith has labelled the BBC a “bigger opponent” than the Labour Party in a fresh attack on the Corporation’s coverage of the Government’s reform of the benefits system.

The attack on the BBC’s ‘relentless negative coverage’ came from the Work and Pensions Secretary came after a BBC bulletin on Friday which reported criticism of the Government’s latest changes to the benefits system.

The report concerned a leaked document which showed the costs of the employment and support allowance were rising, leaving the Government ‘vulnerable’ to breaching its new welfare cap.

Ministers told the Daily Mail  that the suggestion was ‘outrageous’, adding that if the cost of one type of benefit increases, other benefits must be cut to compensate.

Mr Duncan Smith claimed the corporation had run five negative stories this week about his department. He said: "This Government is fixing the broken and bloated welfare system left behind by Labour… but the BBC news appears to consistently rely on a narrow band of commentators who are overwhelmingly negative."

This isn’t the first time that Mr Duncan Smith has attacked the BBC’s coverage. Last July the DWP complained about the use of the phrase “bedroom tax” in relation to its spare room subsidy policy, while Mr Duncan Smith has called the broadcaster’s approach “frustrating”.

The latest intervention comes after the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that the “rushed” implementation of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) had been “nothing short of a fiasco” and had forced some disabled people to turn to food banks, while other critics have said Mr Duncan Smith has proved himself to be inept at managing the implementation of reform over the past three years.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are satisfied that our coverage of welfare spending has been fair, balanced and impartial."