Iain Duncan Smith Accused Of 'Hypocrisy' After Saying Scots Couldn't Afford Their Own Welfare

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IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
Iain Duncan Smith will claim that Scotland won't be able to meet its welfare bill under independence | PA

Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of "hypocrisy" by the Scottish government after he claimed Scotland couldn't afford its current welfare bill if it were independent.

Duncan Smith will use a speech in Glasgow later on Wednesday to claim that Scotland would have to put up taxes if it were to maintain its free prescriptions and personal care.

"If the unthinkable were to happen, a Scottish Government would face a very stark choice of raising taxes or cutting services. This is not scaremongering, it's reality," Duncan Smith is expected to say.

"Due to the reliance on the old heavy industries in many parts of the country, it makes perfect sense that we need to spend more money per head of population on welfare support in Scotland. I have no problem with that," he will say.

"Thankfully, due to the United Kingdom and the commitment of the Westminster Government, we are able to ensure that money brought in, whether it be from the City of London or from North Sea oil, can be pooled and directed to wherever it is needed most."

Duncan Smith is under pressure to prove that Universal Credit scheme will be effective. The new welfare handout will replace a raft of existing tax credits and benefits, but there are concerns that the IT systems won't be ready on time and that many claimants will struggle to manage their money once they are getting monthly payments.

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The Work and Pension secretary will use the speech in Glasgow on the universal credit to touch on the independence debate. He will say that welfare spending is 6% higher north of the border, and that North Sea oil and gas revenues would not meet the costs.

"In many ways Scotland will benefit more than other parts of the UK when universal credit comes in," he will say. "A larger percentage of people will see an increase in their income through moving into work or taking on more hours."

"I do not believe the picture that some people paint of Scottish towns dependent on welfare. Every time I come here, I meet people who are determined to get into work who, with the right help, are desperate to get off benefits, support their family and set an example for their children."

Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused the Work and Pensions Secretary of "scaremongering".

"This is the height of hypocrisy from a Tory Government which is set on dismantling welfare provision as we know it - and only independence will protect Scots from the savage benefits cuts the Conservatives are now engaged in," she said.

"The reality, as opposed to this blatant Tory scaremongering, is that Scotland more than pays its way when it comes to welfare, and an independent Scotland will be well able to afford to protect the most vulnerable members of our society."