IDS: 'Conservatives are winning the argument on welfare'


Political Editor

The Conservatives are winning the argument against Labour on welfare because the debate is no longer about how much money is spent, Iain Duncan Smith will claim today.

The Work and Pensions Secretary will argue that the key debate is now over the difference welfare spending makes to people’s lives rather than the size of the budget. He will outline his personal mission, over which he has clashed with George Osborne, the Chancellor. He will say that welfare reform should be about “social renewal - part of a Conservative vision of strong families”.

Mr Duncan Smith is opposing the Chancellor’s plan for £12bn of further cuts in the two years after next year’s general election. He is also unhappy about what he regards as divisive Tory rhetoric which portrays benefit claimants as “shirkers, not strivers.”

In a speech marking the tenth anniversary of the Centre for Social Justice, the think tank he founded,  Mr Duncan Smith will claim he is reforming the “broken welfare system” left by Labour. “We would have wanted to reform the welfare state, even if we had no deficit. As Conservatives, we should hate the idea of people with unfulfilled potential languishing on welfare. Welfare reform is fundamentally about opportunity and life change,” he will say.

“We are cutting the cost of social failure by transforming the life chances and outcomes of those on benefits. Restoring fiscal stability, and restoring lives at the same time,” he will say. "Our real success has been to reframe the argument – challenging a narrative beloved of the Left, which focuses so exclusively on how much is being spent on welfare that it risks overlooking the real question... that it is not about how much goes into the benefit system, but what difference it makes to people at the other end.”

In another veiled warning to fellow Conservatives, the Work and Pensions Secretary will argue that Britain will only be great again if everyone is part of the economic recovery and growth, which underpinned by social change. "In other words, reform that is not just about state institutions, but about social renewal – part of a Conservative vision of strong families with hope for their children’s future but who also care about their communities,” he will say.

Praising the Chancellor’s plan for an inflation-plus rise in the national minimum wage, Mr Duncan Smith will argue: “A stable economic settlement requires a strong social settlement. You cannot reform one without the other, and thus welfare reform is one very important part of a larger, long-term economic plan.”

Mr Duncan Smith, who has clashed with the BBC over its portrayal of reforms such as the “bedroom tax,” will round on his critics, accusing them of misrepresenting his changes. He insists on describing the tax as the removal of the “spare room subsidy” in public housing.

"The task that we have set out to achieve is hardly a small undertaking. And it is not easy, as those arrayed against us do all they can to misrepresent what we are doing; angling for a return to the failed and expensive policies of the past, when success was measured by the amount of money you spent, not the lives you improved,” he will say.

"The purpose for government is not grand but simple. It is that through our economic and welfare changes we will have helped people feel that bit more secure about their futures, feel more hopeful about their children’s lives and rekindle their pride in their communities, as their neighbours also begin to thrive."

Mr Duncan Smith’s speech comes three days after his Labour opposite number Rachel Reeves set out a tougher approach to welfare in her first major policy statement since taking on the brief.

The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, who is trying to rebut Tory attacks that Labour is “the welfare party”, announced that jobless people who fail a basic skills test and refuse training, would lose their Jobseeker’s Allowance.

She matched the Tories by backing tough curbs on when EU migrants to Britain should qualify for benefits.  But she is opposing Tory plans to reduce housing benefit for under-25s and rejects proposals to means-test JSA for young people so it takes account of their parents’ income.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk