MSP blasted Tory welfare tsar Iain Duncan Smith yesterday after new research showed that his regime had hit Scotland’s poorest up to five times harder than its richest.
Backbenchers on Holyrood’s welfare reform committee called on the Work and Pensions Secretary to account for a study of Scottish electoral wards which found people in some of the poorest areas lost nearly five times as much under his welfare reforms as those in more affluent areas.
Yet Mr Duncan Smith’s office appeared to rebuff the renewed calls for accountability.
Labour MSP and committee convener Michael McMahon accused the millionaire minister of hiding and said: “Government cannot continue to refuse to engage on welfare reform.
“Not only do they refuse to undertake research like ours to assess the impact on people, but the relevant Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) minister continuously refuses to talk to us on the record and in public.”
Sheffield Hallam University’s research showed that residents of impoverished Glasgow Calton were hardest hit.
Adults lost an average of £880 a year, compared with adults in affluent St Andrews who lost an average £180 a year.
But researcher Professor Steve Fothergill said Scotland had not been singled out.
“But as in the rest of Britain, the cumulative effect of the reforms is not only to hit some of the poorest individuals hardest but also to hit the poorest communities much harder than the most affluent neighbourhoods,” he said.
The DWP said it was “transforming the lives of the poorest people in society.”