George Osborne has accused his critics of peddling "headline-seeking nonsense" in a rare prepared speech guaranteed to make headlines.

Expressing depressingly predictable outrage at what he called "depressingly predictable outrage", the millionaire chancellor told a group of minimum wage supermarket employees that "for too long, we've had a system where... people who did the wrong thing got rewarded for it." To the surprise of his audience, he didn't mean bankers.

"There's nothing fair about a something-for-nothing culture," said the man who has a trust of 15 per cent in his father's family business and who is heir apparent to the Osborne baronetcy.

"For too long, we've had a system where people who did the right thing - who get up in the morning and work hard - felt penalised for it," added Osborne, who briefly held two part-time jobs before entering politics.

Ignoring the findings of experienced welfare campaigners, disability groups and other experts, Osborne - who didn't study economics and who has presided over the UK losing its AAA credit rating - accused critics of talking "ill-informed rubbish".

"The pundits and politicians who are spending this week firing off letters to newspapers, or touring the television studios, are missing what people actually want," he said - shortly before it was revealed that a petition to get Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week had gained over 200,000 signatures.

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  • <em>(All images: Press Association)</em>

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