Minister who helped create the Universal Credit leaves government

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Indy Politics

A minister instrumental to Conservative welfare reform has left his government post after more than six years.

Lord Freud was the only minister at the Department for Work and Pensions who survived from David Cameron’s administration and was a key architect of the Universal Credit.

The peer, who draws no ministerial salary, is also the longest serving minister in the same role, but is not a stranger to controversy having suggested in 2014 that some disabled workers are "not worth" the minimum wage.

Announcing his retirement, Lord Freud said: "At the heart of our reforms is desire to give people independence to improve their lives.

"For too long, people have been trapped by a byzantine benefits system, leaving them powerless.

"This has always been my driving force - to give people back control over their own lives; to give support in times of need, but also to give a clear route out of the benefits system and into independence."

He added: "As I retire from my ministerial position, I leave with full confidence in the future of universal credit."

The Lord advised Labour on welfare reform before joining the Tories as a peer in 2009. Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green paid tribute to his "impressive attention to detail" and said he had made an "outstanding" contribution to government.

But the Public and Commercial Services union said Lord Freud had been central to the implementation of deep spending cuts to the welfare system.

A spokesman said: "Among staff in DWP, unemployed, sick and disabled people, there'll be no mourning the loss of a man who injected poison into our social security system.

"For years Freud has been at the heart of the cruel and dangerous upheaval of our employment and benefits services, and we'll be glad to see the back of him."

Downing Street said a successor DWP minister in the House of Lords will be appointed "in due course".