Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Iain Duncan Smith avoids questions on benefits row

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has refused to confirm or deny reports of a row between his department and the Treasury over the way in which benefit increases are calculated.

He gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee on 9 November 2011 on the annual report of the department, which covered the 2010-11 financial year.

Mr Duncan Smith sidestepped questions that suggested he was at loggerheads with the Treasury over claims it was examining ways to halt a big rise in payments next April.

Questioned over whether he had threatened to resign over the issue, he said: "I try not to threaten anything really, I try to do things rather than threaten."

Pressed by Labour's Glenda Jackson, who pointed out he was not rebutting the resignation reports, he said: "I'm not confirming anything. I don't confirm or rebut.

"If we spent our whole time rebutting things or agreeing with them then we would have a different kind of day and you will forgive me if I just get on with the day job."

The annual report sets out the department's aim to reform the welfare system.

It highlights the department's publication of a white paper on universal credit, which could replace a series of existing benefits.

The department introduced the Welfare Reform and Pension Bills, and announced proposals to reform housing benefit.

Among planned changes in the Welfare Reform Bill are an overall cap on a family's benefits of £26,000, limits to housing benefit, new tests for those claiming incapacity benefit and tighter rules for job seekers offered work.

Labour says that it would welcome simplification of the system but suggests that there are not the jobs available to ensure people get into work.

Work and pensions committee membership


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