Iain Duncan Smith’s boast he could live on £53 a week shows how out of touch he is

7:33 pm - April 1st 2013

by Sunny Hundal    

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Iain Duncan’s Smith’s boast today that he could live on £53 a week is perhaps the best example of how removed this cabinet of millionaires is from the experiences of ordinary people.

Go ahead IDS, try it. Try it not just for one week but try it for 52 weeks in a year.

Try living every day and every week just hand-to-mouth. Try living in a state of constant anxiety that a big unexpected bill could completely bankrupt you. Try living in a world where you constantly have to make excuses to friends because you can’t afford going out, and see what state of mind that puts you in. I’ve been there and it was depressing.

The Tories have always believed the vast majority of people people on welfare are lazy and would prefer benefits over work.

Their changes to welfare aren’t driven by compassion (as IDS used to claim), evidence or a genuine attempt to help people.

This is an entirely ideological crusade because none of their policies (from the Bedroom Tax, to Workfare programmes, Universal Credit and disability benefit cuts) are designed to help people.

There are constant setbacks and u-turns because IDS has never cared whether they are driven by evidence or not. Why else would he continue a Workfare programme that wastes money and is less successful than doing nothing? Why else would he penalise disabled people for having a spare room if they’ve got nowhere else to go?

If Iain Duncan Smith was genuinely interested in helping people out of poverty he’d try to understand their concerns, look at how policies affect people and understand the evidence.

There is none of that. There are just attempts to foist ill-thought-out changes on people’s lives in the belief it is best for them. And there is the arrogant belief that it isn’t so difficult being in their shoes.

Let’s see him put his money where his mouth is. If there was any evidence he doesn’t understand reality, this is it.

Sign the petition to get IDS to live on £53 a week.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Fight the cuts ,Westminster

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Reader comments

“Iain Duncan Smith’s boast he could live on £53 a week shows how out of touch he is”

That’s some really penetrating insight you’ve got there Sunny, I assume you took all day to come up with that angle.

He’s got to attend four job interviews a week and work in Poundland for free too, don’t forget.

Apologies for the consecutive posting. It just occurred to me what IDS’s thoughts might have been to make such a fatuous statement. ” we’ll, mrs IDS will be doing the shopping and all I need is a few quid for the chaps at the golf club…” Sort of thing.

Well, he could try it for a week and apply for some jobs too at the same time. Who knows, he may get lucky rather than tossing it off for a year, Sunny.

6. Steve Skinner

I note that IDS, when interviewed today about the “Spare Room Subsidy” said this is all about getting people back to work.

Is he not aware that many people claiming Housing Benefit are in work already?

In principle the idea of those in properties bigger than they need moving to smaller ones sounds sensible. However if this was a genuine attempt to solve a problem surely research would have been done to find out how many smaller properties are available in each area?

From a terrible day in terms of the political climate of this country, this petition has been a great source of hope and inspiration. It really seems to have hit a chord with many people, and even the Tory trolls seem to have been hit off guard. I expect there are meetings being held in Tory HQ right now to work out how they respond! Well done all involved.

@steve skinner: one thing we have learned about this government is that they never do their research.

Live on just £53 – is that before or after 1984?

Does he know he got to pay all his bills with that, not just for food, if he was actualy going to do it it should have been winter so he could freeze his bollocks off. work pays if you didnt undercut the british people by giving 9/10 jobs to immigrants,you are a joke!!!

The man who spent £39 on breakfast (and then claimed it back from the taxpayer) wouldn’t make it to lunch time on £53 a week. Even by his own colossal standards this is a supreme gaffe from an imbecile among imbeciles. This week seems to have been designated Kick The Shit Out Of The Poor Week by the Tories (OK, so every week is that, but they seem to be making an extra special effort). Esther McVapid and Slippery Shapps (who really should be in jail by now) have had a go and today its the turn of the Towelfolder General himself, Gidiot. They don’t seem to have been able to prise the minister for employment off his silk cushions for a comment yet.

100k+ signatures on that petition already after just a day. Wonder if they’re all from ‘the wrong side of the public’ as Osborne puts it.

13. James Notts

Here is Ian Duncans Smith’s personally fitting Anthem :


£53 is possible. We have charity shops, other countries don’t have such possibilities. Basic needs = food/water/shelter/clothing/sanitation/education/healthcare … I believe that the UK govt provides all of these…so why so much more. If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it, stay away from loans, and learn to budget.

One thing that really bugs me, is the fact that every single job agency shop where I live is always full of jobs in retail/warehouses…and as far as I know, McDonalds are never not employing…when I was looking for work, I had to just accept anything that came along, and not complain. I am so glad I did.

Does the word recession not mean anything to anyone?

1. Go to the market to buy your veg, go to the supermarket to buy your value stuff (many times is better/healthier than the more expensive stuff). Buy in bulk.
2. Use a pay as you go phone….a cheap phone can cost less than £10, use when necessary.
3. Make clothes last, they can last several years. In any case, a couple of pants/socks cost a few quid, and will last for 2-3 years (done it myself).
4. Most countries don’t have washing machines, and (as I’ve done) you can wash clothes by hand if really needed.
5. if you are cold, you can always wear more layers…when living in another country without central heating, when I was younger, we didn’t have central heating, I would wear many more clothes, fewer showers (no baths there) and survived as a happy individual.
6. Instant Noodles = 11p (cheapest I’ve seen) = 1 meal = 33p per day….if absolutely needed. Porridge Oats = 75p for 1kg, milk = £1 for 4 pints, sultanas = £1 for 500g = enough for several oat/milk/raisin meals with all the protein, carbs, fat and fibre you need for a meal (trust me, I lived on this for months).

Yes, being born in the UK used to mean you were set for life…times have changed, the world is smaller, there are more strains. After all, if we’re forking out that much money just to look after those without work, and not producing, we’re obviously going to be in a deficit.

Duncan Smith has sucked at the teat of govt all his life. His father was in the military (paid by the taxpayer) He went to a school (paid by the taxpayer)

He then joined the military himself (paid by the tax payer) and will receive a military pension (paid for by the taxpayer) when he retires. He then left to join the private sector REJOICE REJOICE. Oh dear the private company was an arms manufacturer so it’s customer was the govt. (So even when he was in the private sector he was still living off the taxpayer)

Then he left to become a politician. (No need to outline all his tax payers give aways as an mp. Salary, expense account, gold plated pension when he retires. To go with his military one. All paid by the tax payer)

He also manages to live rent free in a mansion owned by his father in law. And on top of that managed to get his son educated at Eton on one of thos private school schemes that private schools always boast are for the poor.

The man is fucking freeloader.

Given that no one, absolutely no one at all, is asked to live on £53 a week I’m not sure why you’re insisting the IDS should try it.

If you mean £53 a week after various other things are paid for (rent for example) then why not say so?

And if you want to set up a little documentary like they did with Matthew Parris back in Thatcher’s day then why not do so? I would happily be the guinea pig.

Life on £53 cash a week (which is what you actually mean) ain’t fun for sure. But it’s perfectly possible.

17. James Notts

£7.55p a Day. Everyone knows that £7.55p a day will just about feed you. What for example if you need to use a bus that is £1.40 each way on a oyster card. People need to use public transport to get to job interviews. I have personally noticed that clothes in charity shops are just as expensive as in retail stores. Can’t think of anywhere you can buy a pair of shoes second hand that have any wear left on them. But hold on minute : By the time you have just about managed to feed yourself on £7.55p a day you will have nothing left. How the hell are you going to pay for gas and electric.

All this bullshit about being able to live comfortably on £7.55 by some people that have posted on here is FairyLand Stories and to be honest they have never been there. If they had, they would not be making up so many lies.

How is is fair that George Osborne and mob gave the richest in society a nice BIG healthy tax break in the budget before last whilst financially slaughtering the vulnerable.

Maybe Georgy boy and mob should be handing back that BIG healthy tax break, truly chase up tax avoidance/evasion, don’t invest in the new nuclear programme, cut back on foreign aid and the list goes on and on and on where money could be saved instead of inflicting wide spread poverty on the most vulnerable in British society.

I’ve noticed a few people chiming in with ‘Well, it IS possible to live on £53 pw…”. Of course it’s POSSIBLE. It’s POSSIBLE to last up to 8 weeks without food, as long as you’ve got water. Human beings are capable of lots of things, when they ‘have to’. But that isn’t the point. The point is: why should anyone ‘have to’ go hungry, when the people who are meant to be representing us are getting food allowance payments on top of their £65,000 salary??

And Tim’s comment of: “After all, if we’re forking out that much money just to look after those without work, and not producing, we’re obviously going to be in a deficit.” Absolutely clueless.

And no using the HoC subsidised canteen!

JC Piech, please enlighten me then…

“And Tim’s comment of: “After all, if we’re forking out that much money just to look after those without work, and not producing, we’re obviously going to be in a deficit.” Absolutely clueless.”

will the left in britain now recognise the obvious and respond in kind? this is class war by the tory/lib coalition and people will die as a result of these changes introduced yesterday. this requires an equally determined fight back and not just in the polite corridors of westminster but on the streets. does the left in britain have the cojones for such a fight? sadly, i doubt it,

16. Tim Worstall
“Life on £53 cash a week (which is what you actually mean) ain’t fun for sure. But it’s perfectly possible.”

Put your money where your mouth is. We are all in this together after all.

Lets both do it for a month, and put the remainder of our income to Shelter.

How noble of IDS to reduce his expenditure to £53 a week, it will be an interesting experiment indeed. And more importantly, the excess money should make a big difference if divided up between the people who really need it.

@Ed – You could try the Left Unity web page, even some jaded anarchists are starting to feel that something different, an actual movement from below, is beginning to take form.

Well, who’d have guessed? The story os absolute bollox as the guy had £53 left after all bills and after scamming HMRC of self assessment WTC.

25. DtP
Not sure where you are getting your information from.

Anyway, the story is IDS thinks he could live on £53 a week.

If your allegations are correct (and no doubt @toryeducation heavies have been reallocated to the task of digging dirt in this area), then that is a separate matter, that does not in anyway diminish the ridiculously out of touch and callous comments from a Minister of State who receives £2500 a week from tax payers, and who is allowed to live entirely freely in a £2M mansion which may well have spare bedrooms (There is clearly no tax benefit to IDS or his in laws by this arrangement, otherwise people would have raised this matter).

27. Chaise Guevara

IDS is right. He could live on £53 a week. It just wouldn’t be much fun.

To be honest, I don’t see how he could have said “no” once challenged.

Duncan Smith has dismissed the views of several hundred thousand voters as a stunt.

Sign this petition


to also ask him to pay Connie, from north-west London £2500 a week for a year, and a £2M mansion to live in. Connie currently has £53 a week to live

Ooooh a Tory has said something, that shows he’s out of touch. Christ Sunny, if he used olive oil spread on his toast in the morning you’d say he’s out of touch.

As to the “Tories have always believed blah blah fish sticks” section, it’s a nice straw man but bears no resemblance to the IDS’s actions or words. Most people on benefits would rather be in work, but Labour (remember them) through their ‘precision bombing’ approach to getting people out of poverty, managed to create a system in which people are either massively disincentivised to look for work, or would be flat out worse off by working.

How can you claim to be compassionate and on the side of the poor while supporting a welfare system that would struggle to be better at keeping people poor even if you designed it to do so?

30. the a&e charge nurse

@18 ‘It’s POSSIBLE to last up to 8 weeks without food, as long as you’ve got water’ – christ, don’t be giving them ideas!!

What a load of rubbish
What planet is he on ,just gos to show how out of touch he is
He thinks everyone else are idiots like him
Maybe he should take a cut in his income and stop any bonuses he has and put it all back into the welfare system then maybe poor people would not have to suffer

Yes I agree with Sonia and the nurse, It seems nobody is agreeing with anyone . We shouldn’t have that problem to think about,it looks now that CONSERVATIVE have got us in even a bigger MESS than LABOUR ever, People were working under LABOUR …With this government It’s 1500 redundant,and they recruiet 500 on a day to day basis………..

I suspect £55 a week wouldn’t even have paid his mess bills when IDS was in the Scots Guards.

Sorry about this, but Mr Bennett receives £156 per week in benefits.


350k+ signatures in just 2 days.

Tim, you are ridiculous.

You have simply written down what every poor person probably thinks about on a regular basis and tried to imply your saying something profound!

It’s the standard of living that every human being deserves that’s truly in question, you tit.

35. Cylux

– I think the pace of this petition must set some sort of record. 15 000 more in the last 3 hours.

The half a million the National Trust gathered in opposition to planning reforms (another “trotsky” stunt) took several weeks, and was displayed in every tea room and in their members magazine.

In the US, a petition demanding the arrest of Trayvon Martin’s killer had signatures coming in at rate of 1000/hour according to Los Angeles Times – perhaps also a “stunt”? Whilst 2.2M signatures were gathered, a rate of 1000/hour is slightly lower

Perhaps the biggest stunt of all from so-called feckless scroungers spouting ill-informed rubbish, were the chartist petitions. The greatest of these gathered 3.3M – a third of the UK population. I think in these times, we could learn a lot from Chartism right now (e.g. “that taxation must be made to fall on property, not on industry”).

The more I look at this story, the more I realise that IDS calling us all participants in a stunt is even more galling. After all the £53 put down initially insulted one person in front of millions. He is now insulting us all.

If living on £53 per week really is that hard, then surely this is your incentive to go out and get a job?

39. Brian Howett

I would like to see IDS stand by his statement, and show us how he can live on £53, not for a week, but for a whole year.
If he is so out of touch with the real world and can make such statements, then he should be honour bound to live up to those statements.

He can then always donate his un-needed salary to Charity?

B J Howett

40. c. j.woodward

I now know four self employed people for whom work has dried up. They have no income at all as a result and they do not even appear on in the unemployment figures.
If I know four how many more are there in the country and how are they expected to survive? STEAl?

41. c. j.woodward

I now know four self employed people , their work is drying up and they cannot get job seekers allowance.

They have no income at all. How are they to live?

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