Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

IDS Says Families Have Babies to Claim Benefits

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

IDS Says Families Have Babies to Claim Benefits

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH sparked a row today by suggesting that the welfare system is encouraging families on benefits to have more children.

Launching a staunch defence of his welfare reforms, the Work and Pensions Secretary argued that some households on benefits were "trapped" in homes that they would not be able to afford if they worked.

He added: "They therefore are discentivised from taking work.

"They are incentivised, many of these families, to find more children so that they can stay out of work. This is utterly wrong and it's a benefit system which desperately needs change."

His comments sparked an immediate backlash. Labour frontbencher Karen Buck said: "Iain Duncan Smith needs to think with great care before making these crass statements."

Asked whether David Cameron agreed with Mr Duncan Smith's view, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "People have children for a whole host of reasons, make those decisions for a whole host of reasons. I don't think they are purely financial."

Ahead of a crunch vote in the Lords on the reforms, Mr Duncan Smith said that commuters should not have to pay for families in London to receive benefit of more than [pounds sterling]26,000-a-year.

He also published figures which show that in 17 boroughs in the capital the benefit cap will hit at least 1,000 families.

More than half the 67,000 households affected by the new [pounds sterling]26,000 limit on benefits are in London. Some 220,000 children are in families who will be hit by the changes.

But Mr Duncan Smith denied that any children would be plunged into poverty or that anyone would be forced onto the street. He said: "The purpose of this is not to punish people but it is to give fairness to people who are paying tax, who are commuting large distances because they can only afford to live in the houses that they have chosen."

However, he signalled fresh concessions to Liberal Democrat peers, bishops and other cross-benchers who are rebelling against the welfare Bill.

He defended the cap but said there could be more discretionary help for families where parents lose jobs, to allow them more time to find work. …

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