Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams has launched a stinging attack on Iain Duncan Smith, calling for him to resign in the wake of his department admitting fabricating quotes for a leaflet.
Ms Abrahams, who is a member of the work and pensions select committee, said Mr Duncan Smith was a ‘disgrace’ following revelations that the Department for Work and Pensions created a leaflet about sanctions containing made-up quotes attributed to non-existent benefit claimants.
Early this year, she instigated an inquiry into the use of sanctions by the work and pensions committee.
She said: “After being caught out so publicly it must be impossible for Iain Duncan Smith to continue as work and pensions secretary and he should do the honourable thing and resign.
“This is yet another example of not only his incompetence, but what can only be described as very shady and unscrupulous behaviour not befitting a Member of Parliament let alone a Secretary of State leading a Government Department.
“He is a disgrace and should do the honourable thing and resign.”
The DWP was this week forced to admit it used stock images of people and made-up quotes from claimants to promote controversial welfare sanctions.
The leaflet, which has since been withdrawn and amended, featured ‘stories’ from various people recounting how having things like benefits cut helped them in the long run.
One, from someone called Sara, said a cut to benefits had been the encouragement she needed to re-do her CV.
The DWP says the stories were ‘for illustrative purposes only’.
The newly-published leaflet no longer carries pictures of the people and adds a disclaimer that the stories are used to ‘show how sanctions work in practice’.
But Ms Abrahams said: “When his own department have to resort to this sort of tactic, in a desperate attempt to make it appear as though the system is working, no-one can be left believing that his draconian social security sanctions regime is fit for purpose.
“Only Mr Duncan Smith seems to believe that unfair and inappropriate use of sanctions on vulnerable social security claimants is acceptable. And now he’s shown that he thinks it’s acceptable for his department to produce literature that is fabricated in a desperate attempt to make people believe his sanctions regime is working fairly.
“It beggars belief that David Cameron can, in the light of this embarrassing debacle, continue to back Mr Duncan Smith as a credible work and pensions secretary when he has presided over such a catalogue of errors.”
Main image courtesy of UK in Spain / inset courtesy of Debbie Abrahams via YouTube, with thanks.