Osborne launches defence of welfare system reforms

GEORGE OSBORNE will this morning defend radical changes to Britain’s welfare system that began to come into force yesterday, saying the reforms are “about making sure that we use every penny we can to back hard working people who want to get on in life”.

In a speech to employees at a supermarket distribution centre, the chancellor will accuse critics of the changes of having “vested interests”, calling their outrage “depressingly predictable”.

His staunch defence of the plans comes a day after work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the reforms mean Britons will always be better off in work than claiming benefits.

In response to a question from a market trader who receives benefits, Duncan Smith yesterday insisted he could survive on £53 a week after rent and bills – equivalent to the lowest jobseeker’s allowance payment. A petition urging the minister to prove he can live on the allowance had been signed by more than 100,000 people last night.

The reforms are expected to save the Treasury billions of pounds a year but some charities, churches and the Labour party claim they will push thousands into poverty. Despite these fears, recent research shows the majority of the public support the changes.