Nearly 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Iain Duncan Smith to “prove his claim of being able to live on £7.57 a day, or £53 a week.”
The Work and Pensions Secretary said “if I had to, I would” when confronted with the proposition of living on £53 a week, the amount a 51-year old market trader told the BBC he was left with after housing cuts.
Conservative MP and Treasury minister Greg Clark has said that it would be an “incredible struggle” to live that way but added that the context of Mr Duncan Smith’s remarks was that “we’re all having to tighten our belts”.
Meanwhile, some in the media have placed the controversy in a different context—noting Mr Duncan Smith’s £2 million home and £134,565/year salary. Helen Lewis of the New Statesman gave a link to an article cataloguing Mr Smith’s gadget purchases and monthly phone bills and tweeted:
Incredulity in the media over Mr Duncan Smith’s claim put public scepticism in the foreground just as George Osborne defended changes to the tax and welfare system. In a speech today, the chancellor called criticism “headline seeking rubbish”. Of the changes themselves he said, "this month we make work pay."
Watch Iain Duncan Smith defend government welfare cuts: