Getting up early in the morning to go to work is good for your health and social wellbeing, Iain Duncan Smith has claimed.
In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper the Work and Pensions Secretary said Ed Miliband’s party “hate” people who get up early in the morning to run successful businesses.
“Labour doesn’t understand work. They don’t understand the importance of work in a cultural, social and health sense,” he said.
“Instead they’re saying ‘here are the people we hate’. They hate people who get up early in the morning and work to get a business off the ground, they hate people who take risks, hate people that earn money, hate people that create jobs.”
Mr Duncan Smith’s claims about the health benefits of toil are contradicted by a body of scientific evidence.
Shift work and extended hours are linked to much higher risk of anxiety and depression, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
A recent study by the Department of Health also suggested that a lack of sleep increased the risk of diabetes and obesity.
A number of researchers have also identified a medical condition known as “shift work sleep disorder” whose consequences include increased morbidity, insomnia, and social disorders.
The Conservative minister’s claim comes days after he claimed zero-hours contracts were good for workers’ “work-life balance”.
He told Sky News that the contracts were “badly named” and should be called “flexible-hours contracts”.
“We know two things people with these zero hours contracts: we know that people who do them are more satisfied with their work-life balance, interestingly enough, and we know that people who do them are not working tiny numbers, it’s actually 25 hours a week,” he said at the time.
The comments also recall those made by the Chancellor George Osborne, who described Labour as the party of “skivers” while the Conservatives took responsibility for “strivers” – by which he meant people who worked hard to improve their circumstances.
Mr Osborne described a situation of people going to work early in the morning seeing those with the curtains drawn “sleeping away a life on benefits”.
“Where is the fairness, we ask, for the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?” he asked during his 2012 conference speech.
Last month Mr Duncan Smith’s Labour counterpart Rachel Reeves said she did not want to represent people who were claiming benefits, arguing Britain had a “failed welfare state”.
"We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we're not, the party to represent those who are out of work," she said.
"Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people."
Labour plans to bring in a compulsory job guarantee which would see people offered but forced to take a short-term minimum wage job after a set period of unemployment.
The Conservatives say they would make significant extra cuts to the welfare budget but have not said where those reductions will fall.
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