01/04/2013 12:02 BST | Updated 02/04/2013 10:01 BST

Iain Duncan Smith Urged By Petition To Show He Can Actually Live On £53 A Week

A petition calling on Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week has been signed by over 66,000 people in less than day, after the Work and Pensions secretary said he could live on the amount some benefit claimants receive "if I had to".

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme on Monday morning, Duncan Smith made the claim after saying it was "only fair" if households had a spare room with "no legitimate reason" that they should pay for it, when other families were crammed into houses that were too small for them.

Market trader David Bennett told the programme he earned around £2,700 last year working between 50 and 70 hours a week.

Mr Bennett said his housing benefit had been cut even though his children stayed with him several days a week, and that his overall income was now around £53 per week.

It was not clear why Mr Bennett was not receiving tax credits.

The petition has taken off since Dominic Aversano started it earlier on Monday and has become the fastest growing petition ever on Change.org in the UK.

Dominic said he was “overwhelmed" by the number of people who have signed my petition.

He added: "Iain Duncan Smith's comments earlier struck me as both fanciful and insincere.

"I believe many people feel there is a dangerous division forming in this country between the rich and poor, and to bridge this, and prove we truly are all in this together, he should show leadership and prove he can survive in the conditions he expects others to endure. ”


Duncan Smith also penned a joint article in the Daily Telegraph with Chancellor George Osborne, writing: "Of course, if you listened to the shrill voices of the Left you'd think that every change to the welfare system, and any attempt to save money, marks the beginning of the end of the world."

The politician has come under heavy fire both by Labour, the church and voices on social media, who condemned his cuts as being unjust. Now many are calling on the Work and Pensions secretary to "prove" his claim.

The petition on change.org calls on Iain Duncan Smith "to live on this budget for at least one year. This would help realise the Conservative Party's current mantra that "We are all in this together".

"This would mean a 97% reduction in his current income, which is £1,581.02 a week or £225 a day after tax."

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Underneath one signatory has written: "Multimillionaires telling the very poor how easy it is to survive on such a limited income need to put their oodles of money where their mouth is."

Iain Duncan Smith also faced criticism after the Mirror reported he lived rent-free in a £2million country house with at least four spare bedrooms.

Thousands came out to protest against the so-called "bedroom tax" on Saturday while Labour's Work and Pensions Spokesman Liam Byrne slammed the reform there was a massive shortfall of one-bedroom properties for families to move into.

He said: "This wicked bedroom tax is going to rip neighbour from neighbour, force vulnerable people to food banks and loan sharks, and end up costing Britain more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private rented sector.

"It is the worst possible blend of cruelty and incompetence. The government must think again and drop this tax now."

In 2010 Iain Duncan Smith agreed to take part in a Channel 4 reality show Tower Block of Commons where four MPs spent time living in a variety of deprived housing estates around Britain. However he pulled out from the programme after the first episode after his wife was diagnosed with cancer.