I, Daniel Blake: Iain Duncan Smith slams Ken Loach's benefits sanctions film

Mr Duncan Smith presided over £15bn of cuts to the benefits system in the five years after 2010

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Friday 28 October 2016 09:07 BST
Getting ready for Daniel Blake's
Getting ready for Daniel Blake's

Senior Tory Iain Duncan Smith has launched an attack on the new film about life on benefits by Ken Loach, claiming the director has painted an unrealistic picture and treated jobcentre staff unfairly.

Mr Duncan Smith, who presided over deep cuts to benefits when the Tories came to power, claimed I, Daniel Blake focused only on "the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody".

The Palme d’Or-winning film tells the story of a carpenter relying on benefits to survive after suffering a heart attack.

I, Daniel Blake - Official Trailer

He is then thrust into a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare, designed to ensure his disability benefit payments and Jobseeker’s Allowance are almost unobtainable.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith said: "I did think that whilst on the one level this was a human story full of pathos and difficulty, and I’m not saying for one moment there aren’t serious difficulties and issues when you’re under pressure, when things like this happen … the film has taken the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody and lumped it all together and then said this is life absolutely as it is lived by people, and I don’t believe that."

There were £15bn of cuts to the welfare budget over the five years between 2010 and 2015, during which time Mr Duncan Smith was Work and Pensions Secretary. He eventually quit over further cuts to the Universal Credit system he helped design.

Duncan Smith on benefits

He went on: "The one area I just had criticism of really was his portrayal of the jobcentre staff.

"I just thought it was unfair. I mean I have travelled round so many jobcentres talked to so many of them.

"The vast, vast, vast majority … are there to work to help people sort themselves out. They often go through their CVs with them."

Speaking on BBC radio he added: "This idea that everybody is out to crunch you, I think it has really hurt jobcentre staff who don’t see themselves as that."

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