Huffpost UK Politics uk

Iain Duncan Smith's Anger Over Poundland, Workfare And Cait Reilly Boils Over On LBC

Posted: Updated:
Iain was angry
Iain was angry

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith lost his rag on a radio show on Wednesday in a bristling exchange with LBC's James O'Brien over workfare, unemployment and the recent Poundland case.

A flagship back-to-work scheme was ruled legally flawed last week after the Court of Appeal said the rules of the work experience scheme were unclear.

Host O'Brien was accused of being "ludicrous" and "ridiculous" as the politician and the broadcaster thrashed over whether the workfare programme was indeed fair.

Referring to university graduate Cait Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, who challenged having to work for free at a local Poundland discount store or face losing her benefits, Iain Duncan Smith said: "She was being paid for it, what do you think the taxpayer was paying her for God's sake? Her job seekers allowance. The taxpayer is paying her wages."

He also clarified comments made last Sunday on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show that implied she was one of a "group of people out there who think they are too good for this kind of stuff."

Instead he said: "If your shelves do not have food on them, doesn't the shelf stacker have some important part in society?"

When O'Brien asked him about the 1692 people who applied for the eight jobs at a coffee shop in Nottingham, Duncan Smith replied: "There are jobs there, its not easy and people have to keep looking. The reality that people are looking for jobs is a positive point to make for young people's determination to find work."

He also appears to suggest that British jobseekers should be lucky they aren't in France or Spain, where unemployment levels have hit record highs.

The tension between the two men was palpable. Listen to the full exchange below.