The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, has launched an attack on Iain Duncan Smith, claiming there “seems to be something very wrong in the mind” of the Work and Pensions Secretary.
In a speech in London, Mr Byrne accused Mr Duncan Smith of failing to deliver on welfare reform, citing delays in the roll-out of universal credit. He said he would be writing to Mr Duncan Smith to urge him to convene cross-party talks with civil servants to save the reforms from becoming a “sinking ship”.
Universal credit is intended to roll six current benefits – including Jobseeker’s allowance, working tax credits and housing benefit – into a single monthly payment. It is currently being piloted. Asked if he did want to save the policy, Mr Byrne said: “I hope so, I sincerely hope so, but right now we have had so much dissembling we don’t know what is going on.”
In response, Mr Duncan Smith’s spokeswoman said: “This is a last-ditch attempt by Liam Byrne to keep his job in the Shadow Cabinet. Labour is panicking – after a summer of discontent, here is yet another disastrous speech, void of any ideas.”