Iain Duncan Smith has appeared to suggest that the Department for Work and Pensions leaflets which used fake quotes from supposed "benefits claimants" was down to a simple administration error.
Speaking to Sky News on Monday afternoon in his first response to the scandal, which was discovered following an FOI request by Welfare Weekly, the work and pensions secretary said it was "quite peculiar and quite wrong" for the department to have used them and the officials who did so could face disciplinary action.
The leaflets were subsequently withdrawn with the DWP admitting that the stories of "Zac" and "Sarah", which portrayed benefits reforms in a positive light, were "for illustrative purposes only".
What it seems happened, and we are investigating that at the moment, is somebody along the way put up what was essentially meant to be an example of the kind of advice [that is given] and it ended up going out as a quote, which was quite peculiar and quite wrong. We’ve immediately taken that down and stopped it.
That sort of thing doesn't really happen... that’s happened this one time.
- Iain Duncan Smith
In a separate interview with the Press Association, Duncan Smith defended his plans to get the sick and disabled back to work explaining that the current system punished people by not allowing them to work and claim the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) at the same time.
Work is actually a health treatment in a sense. Those who are in work tend to be better and those who are out of work, on sickness benefit, tend to get their conditions worse.