Parliament resumes today for the last week of term before the Easter Recess. Following the dramatic and unexpected resignation of Iain Duncan-Smith on Friday the third day of the budget debate will attract greater media attention than it would otherwise. Inevitably, the resignation will be seen through the prism of the ongoing referendum on the UK’s future membership of the European Union.
Whatever anyone says it will be alleged their view is biased depending on which side of the referendum debate they are on. So, with that been taken as granted, my view is that Iain genuinely did resign because he does not want his welfare reforms to be seen only as part of the need to balance the books. My view is that the welfare reforms have been necessary and I have always defended them. Apart from all those who oppose any form of welfare control the ending of paying housing benefit for unused room and introducing a cap on the amount of welfare a family can claim have been generally widely accepted as being necessary to try and control a welfare budget which was seen as spiralling out of control under Labour. The introduction of Universal Credit and the simplification of the fiendishly complex welfare system must be persevered with. It is because so many politicians over the year have shied away from trying to do this long overdue reform that the system is the way it is today. I hope the new Secretary of State in his understandable desire to impose his own imprint on welfare does not abandon this particular reform.