The former Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith has called on the Prime Minster to scrap a planned £3.4bn cut to Universal Credit.
Duncan Smith, who quit in protest at the welfare cuts in the 2016 Budget, told ministers they should “think very carefully” about reducing work allowances, saying this was a matter “close to my heart”.
Cuts are due to the work allowance, which is the amount people can earn before benefit payments are withdrawn.
Duncan Smith said: “If we really want to see the right thing happen to people out there who try and get into work and stay in work, the allowances are critical.”
“And I would recommend and hope that my colleagues in government will think very carefully again about the decision to reduce those allowances”.
“I recognise the problem with the deficit and of course we want to reduce that, and I’m not asking for more money. I’m asking for wiser spending of the money.
“We have a very good opportunity now to do something that is really bold, and bold and right for those that we really want to improve the lives of, which the Prime Minister rightly said was her target group.
It is a very Conservative thing to do to help people who are doing the right thing to improve their lives.”
This comes after think tank the Centre for Social Justice released a report saying the scheme would make 3 million people £1,000 a year poorer.
“The first steps someone makes into the job market are often the most difficult and yet they are the most important. For someone who has been out of work for a while, the work environment can be a daunting place. These people need to be encouraged and supported to make this transition well,” it said.
Last month Duncan Smith argued that the plan would only help high earners, and said - echoing May’s line - that those who were “just about managing” should be prioritised.