Iain Duncan Smith apparently arrived late to a briefing. Under his own rules, his benefits would have been sanctioned

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Tuesday 08 December 2015 13:00
news

Secretary of state for work and pensions Iain Duncan Smith was seemingly late for a briefing this morning, according to journalists who waited for him - and it's been pointed out that if it had been a job interview, he would have had his benefits sanctioned.

Editor of Politics Home Kevin Schofield said on Twitter that Duncan Smith had delayed the start of a briefing on the future of universal credit by at least 15 minutes shortly after 8am this morning.

i100.co.uk contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which said that Duncan Smith was not late for the 8am briefing.

However, people who had been in the room said otherwise:

Despite what the present journalists said, DWP continued to insist that Duncan Smith hadn't been late to the event. A spokesperson said:

Journalists were invited to arrive at 7:50, for an 8am start when they were then given a copy of the report to read and review before the briefing began.

A cross-party committee of MPs recently recommended the DWP urgently review its controversial benefit sanctions regime.

The work and pensions select committee's report said there was evidence sanctions were often incurred erroneously, and even when claimants called ahead to say they couldn't make a job interview or job centre appointment.

One person was found to have been sanctioned because they missed an appointment to attend their father's funeral.

There was evidence that disproportionate sanctions were causing "severe financial hardship", the select committee said.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Duncan Smith claimed no one will lose out when universal credit is slashed instead of tax credits, following a government U-turn in the Autumn Statement.

Nobody will lose any money on arrival on universal credit from tax credits because they're cash protected, which means there's transitional protection...

Nobody loses a penny, unlike they would have done under tax credits.

The Labour Party, charities and analysts have contested Duncan Smith's claim, pointing to research that shows low-income working families stand to miss out on up to £1300.

More: The map that shows why the government needs to review benefit sanctions

More: Six alarming revelations from the benefit sanctions report

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