Iain Duncan Smith resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary because he felt that children’s benefits were being unfairly cut while pensioners’ benefits were left untouched, it has been reported.
Mr Duncan Smith resigned last night, stating that austerity cuts had gone “too far” and arguing that to cut disability benefits at the same time as announcing tax cuts for high earners was “not defensible”.
Philippa Stroud, who co-founded the think tank Centre for Social Justice with Mr Duncan Smith in 2004, said that he was increasingly frustrated that cuts were unbalanced between pensioners and the rest of the population.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “It was not appropriate to be giving away tax incentives to the middle classes, freezing fuel duty and protecting universal benefits and pensioner benefits at the time that you were making cuts to disability benefits.
George Osborne 2016 budget at a glance
George Osborne 2016 budget at a glance
1/8 Debt forecasts up, growth forecasts down
The OBR’s new forecasts have downgraded growth in all of the next five years to 2020. The watchdog says the economy will only grow by 2 per cent in 2016, as opposed to the anticipated 2.4 per cent. Borrowing and productivity growth are also down – with forecast borrowing in 2018-198 £16 billion higher
2/8 New tax on sugary drinks
The Chancellor announced a new tax on sugary soft drinks, which is projected to raise £520 million. At least some of the money will be spent on doubling funding for school sport, the Chancellor says. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the levy
3/8 Tax cut for higher earners paying the 40p rate
The Chancellor has raised the threshold for paying the higher rate of income tax to £45,000. The higher rate is paid by roughly the richest 15 per cent, currently people earning over £42,386
4/8 Increase in tax-free income tax threshold
The tax-free allowance increase to £11,500 in April 2017 – up from £10,600 now. The Chancellor previously raised the allowance from £6,475 in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative manifesto pledges to put the allowance up to £12,500 by the end of the Parliament
5/8 New devolution for counties and powers for London and Manchester
The West of England, the East of England and Greater Lincolnshire will all get elected mayor-led combined authorities with new powers. The Chancellor says they are backed by £1 billion new funding. Greater Manchester will get new powers of criminal justice while London will keep its business rates – giving whoever is elected Mayor a lot more spending power
6/8 Fuel duty frozen for sixth year running
The Chancellor had planned to end the fuel duty freeze he had put in place for the whole previous parliament. In the event, he has announced a freeze for another year
7/8 All schools to become academies
As reported yesterday the Chancellor unveiled legislation to turn all schools into academies. He said all schools would either be academies or on their way to being academies by 2020, and that funding had been set aside to fund the change
8/8 Lifetime ISA
The Chancellor announced a new savings account to encourage under-40s to save for retirement – for every £4 saved, the Government will top this up by £1 up to the value of £4,000 a year. Tax-free ISAs will also be increased from £15,000 to £20,000
Ms Stroud said that this approach ran contrary to Mr Duncan Smith’s aims to: “deliver a social agenda [and] protect the poorest.”
Throughout austerity measures, the Government has safe guarded a number of benefits for pensioners. Some critics have suggested that this an attempt on behalf of the Conservatives to appease their core electoral support from older people.
The Guardian reports that Mr Duncan Smith objected to proposals that benefit cuts to disabled children were to be introduced, which would save £0.5 billion.
Mr Duncan Smith has been replaced by Stephen Crabb, former Welsh Secretary in the role.