Minister backs up claims on 'unfair' benefits

Iain Duncan Smith's campaign to show how the welfare system discourages claimants from working was backed up today with newly published figures from his department about how different groups have fared under the recession.

The Work and Pensions Secretary's statistics showed that means-tested benefits – which excludes pensions and child benefit – rose by 1.8 per cent to 6.3 per cent each year from 2007 to 2012. In real terms most benefits were 20 per cent higher in April 2012 than in April 2007.

Over the same period, average weekly wages in the private sector rose from £386 a week to £431, an increase of just under 12 per cent.

"The welfare state under Labour effectively trapped thousands of families into dependency as it made no sense to give up the certainty of a benefit payment in order to go back to work. This government is restoring fairness to the system," an aide claimed.