Iain Duncan Smith slips up: “She was paid jobseeker’s allowance to do this”

IDS the puppermaster
IDS the puppermaster
Illustration by @dochackenbush

Iain Duncan Smith was interviewed on the Andrew Marr show today. He made some telling statements.

“I understand she said she wasn’t paid. She was paid jobseeker’s allowance, by the taxpayer, to do this.”

Funny, the government have always said that this wasn’t a work-for-your-benefits scheme but IDS seems to think it is.  In fact, the official response by the DWP to a petition to abolish Workfare said:

“We do not have Work for Your Benefit or Workfare schemes in this country.”

Furthermore, in a response to a Freedom of Information request the DWP said:

“Benefit is not paid to the claimant as remuneration for the activity. “

They continue:

“Instead, performing it is one of a number of conditions which may have to be fulfilled by the claimant in order to be paid Jobseeker’s Allowance.  The relationship between the claimant, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and any third parties involved in providing the activity is not one of employment.”

In my opinion that is a serious mistake by IDS. If, as IDS says, benefits are being paid as wages for work experience schemes, then it I suspect that it breaches minimum wage laws. If they are not, as officially claimed by his department, then we have forced unpaid labour. I thought that people paid National Insurance in the expectation that when people needed help they would be supported. Having to work for it is a breach of contract.

“I’m sorry, but there is a group of people out there who think they’re too good for this kind of stuff.”

People don’t think they’re too good for shelf stacking, they think they’re too good for shelf stacking without receiving a fair wage for it. Is “A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work” really a controversial statement in the 21st century?

“Who is more important – them, the geologist, or the person who stacked the shelves?”

Every person is important, including shelf stackers. Geologists are pretty important especially in the oil industry.

“Let me remind you that [former Tesco chief executive] Terry Leahy started his life stacking shelves.”

He was paid for it!

BBC News: Duncan Smith: Shelf-stacking is more important than geology

My thanks to @A11_Seeing_Eye and @Spoonydoc for help with this article.


Iain Duncan Smith was interviewed by James O’Brien on LBC who put the question of remuneration to him. Listen:

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

23 thoughts on “Iain Duncan Smith slips up: “She was paid jobseeker’s allowance to do this””

  1. Would Ian Duncan Smith take two weeks off unpaid to stack shelves, because surely according to his ideology politics is less important than the experience of stacking shelv es for nothing

  2. Having looked into it, the Minimum wage act applies unless parliament was notified ahead of time that the scheme falls outside. Unfortunately the Work Program has that notification. However those people who were on the six month Community action program, their scheme doesn’t appear to have been notified, so the DWP may have a six month wage bill to pay out.

  3. Theoretically, the DWP could argue that because the Claimant is engaged in this “Work Programme” that they are not available for work at the time of the engagemment for no money, therefore, no money!

  4. The woman in the workfare case subsequent to her Poundland placement got a paid job in a supermarket. Clearly she felt that it was the lack of pay for her work that was the problem not the type of work. IDS is a bully and a liar.

  5. “I’m sorry, but there is a group of people out there who think they’re too good for this kind of stuff.”

    Says the guy who didn’t have a proper cv or job.

    The group of people are called the tory party.

  6. All according to the rules, Benefits are Wages

    A New clause gives “Entitlement to Work” however when looked at it
    suggests that this constitutes a conditional wage by way of claiming


  7. Leahy also left Tesco to get a degree, then rejoined as an exec. He did not work his way up the ranks internally.

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