Iain Duncan Smith’s campaign to show how the welfare system discourages claimants from working was backed up yesterday with newly published figures from his department about how different groups have fared under the recession.
The Work and Pensions Secretary’s statistics indicated that means-tested benefits – which excludes pensions and child benefit - went up by between 1.8 per cent and 6.3 per cent each year from 2007 to 2012. The overall effect was that most benefits were 20 per cent higher in April 2012 than in April 2007.
Over the same period, the average weekly wage 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.
But Labour hit back with the familiar charge that the government is attacking standards of the low paid after cutting the top rate of tax for the highest paid.
“Iain Duncan Smith has given the green light to a £14 billion cut to tax credits that's pushing millions of working families into poverty and now means thousands of part time workers are better off on benefits. Yet this omnishambles Government thinks its right to give an average £107,000 tax cut for 8,000 millionaires,” the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne claimed.