THE Tory government risks dividing society, Iain Duncan Smith warned yesterday in his first interview since resigning as Work and Pensions Secretary.
He attacked the ‘desperate search for savings’ focused on benefit payments to people who ‘don’t vote for us’. And he told Andrew Marr his ‘painful’ decision to resign was ‘not personal’ against Chancellor George Osborne.
Duncan Smith warned that the Tories were in danger of not being a ‘one-nation party’ standing up for everyone. He told the Andrew Marr Show: ‘My concern was that what happened immediately after the Christmas period was that pressure began to grow because this pressure was about the Budget and that the problem over the revised figures for the Budget. What worried and concerned me was we then came under pressure to put the consultation and respond to it before the Budget.’
He said: ‘The problem was the institution of the welfare cap which was lowered directly after the last election, pretty arbitrarily.’ He said that rushing a decision on disability benefit ‘only risked linking this to the Budget which it was not part of and should not have been part of. That in turn made it juxtaposed, and I didn’t at that stage know, to tax reductions.’
Duncan Smith insisted: ‘This has been a long-running problem when I felt semi-detached, isolated in these debates because I’m not able to convince people that what we were losing was the narrative that the Conservative Party was this one nation party caring about those who don’t necessarily vote for them.’
He stressed that despite government claims: ‘The money required from the Department for Work and Pensions is still sits in the Red Book. It’s a requirement that will bear down on working age benefits and that is the problem that I have. In my letter I was clear about this, it was the reason I resigned.’
He admitted that cutting disabled benefits while making tax cuts ‘was unfair and perceived to be unfair’. ”That unfairness is damaging to the government, damaging to the party and it’s actually damaging to the public.’ He said: ‘My deep concern has been that this very limited, narrow attack on working age benefits means that we lose the balance of the generations.’