Iain Duncan Smith's expenses credit card is suspended after he runs up £1,000 debt to taxpayer

The DWP secretary has advocated pre-paid cash cards for the unemployed

Jon Stone
Wednesday 01 July 2015 14:52
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Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith’s official parliamentary credit card was suspended after he ran up more than £1,000 in expenses debts, according to records.

The Press Association news agency says the Work and Pensions Secretary is among 19 MPs who have had their credit lines suspended since the start of the year because they owe money to Parliament’s expenses watchdog.

The revelation is likely to embarrass Mr Duncan Smith, who has previously said low-income families should receive their benefits on prepaid cash cards to help control their spending.

“Benefits paid, I always believed, should go to support the wellbeing of their families not to feed their destructive habits,” he told the Conservative party conference last year.

“I am going to start testing prepaid cards onto which we will make benefit payments so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family, finally helping I believe to break the cycle of poverty for families on the margins.”

Mr Duncan Smith himself had his card blocked when he owed the taxpayer £1,057.28 – the equivalent of over 14 weeks of adult rate jobseeker’s allowance.

Other MPs to have had their cards suspended include Mr Duncan Smith’s Labour opposite number Rachel Reeves, former Labour MP Eric Joyce, Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes and Conservative heath minister Ben Gummer.

Debts are recouped by withholding valid claims made. Mr Duncan Smith currently owes no money.

MPs who do not settle large-scale debts quickly enough can have their parliamentary salaries docked. This provision was reportedly used in the case of Mr Joyce.

Items previously claimed on expenses Mr Duncan Smith include a £39 breakfast – a revelation that sparked criticism in light of comments that he could live off £53 a week benefits “if he had to”.

A spokesperson for IPSA said: “An MP may owe an amount to Ipsa for many different reasons, and the fact that an amount is owed does not, in itself, indicate any misuse of the MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses.”

“As part of our credit management programme, MPs are sent financial statements detailing their monthly position with Ipsa. Where MPs have amounts owed to Ipsa, action is taken to recover these amounts.”

Mr Duncan Smith was today told by the Government’s children’s watchdog to halt his welfare cuts to prevent an increase in child poverty.

He is currently committed to cutting £12bn from his department’s annual budget.

Additional reporting by PA

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