Iain Duncan Smith is to remain as secretary of state for work and pensions, David Cameron has confirmed today. His first job will be to decide where £12 billion in benefits cuts are to come from
As David Cameron began announcing who would be in his post-election cabinet, it was made clear that not only is IDS to remain in post, but that he is expected to see universal credit through to full roll-out and to decide where the axe falls as promised benefits cuts are imposed.
The reality that almost everything IDS has touched so far has turned to chaos – the massive backlogs caused by the incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance transfer, the huge personal independence payment backlogs, the endless delays in universal credit roll-out – mean nothing when set against his popularity with Conservative voters.
IDS told reporters:
“It is a privilege to serve in the government, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to complete the vital welfare reforms that have already helped so many people back into work. The completion of Universal Credit will ensure work always pays, and will improve the incomes of those on low salaries."
The £12 billion cuts to benefits are due to be set out in the Autumn statement, but there is a possibility of an announcement within the next month saying in broad terms where the cuts will be made.
For many claimants, news cannot come too soon – it is the waiting to hear if they will be hit that is almost unbearable.
In other news, employment minister Esther Mcvey who lost her seat, has been replaced by hard-right treasury minister Priti Patel. Mark Harper, minister for disabled people since July 2014 has been made chief whip. His replacement has not yet been announced.