DWP chaos: Baroness Altmann in ‘open war’ with IDS

DWP chaos: Baroness Altmann in ‘open war’ with IDS

Attacks, counter-attacks, a ministerial resignation and replacement, have thrown the Department for Work & Pensions into chaos over the weekend.

By the start of this week, Britain had a new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and open warfare between the pensions minister and her former boss, who himself was embroiled in a public quarrel with the Government.

The first shoe fell late last Friday, with Iain Duncan-Smith announcing he had resigned as work and pensions secretary.

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Citing a dispute with Chancellor George Osborne’s Treasury over the decision to strip £1.3bn from disability payments, announced in Wednesday’s Budget, Mr Duncan Smith wrote in his resignation letter that the cut was a “compromise too far”.

Confirmation followed on Saturday that relative unknown Stephen Crabb, MP for Welsh constituency Preseli Pembrokeshire, would replace Mr Duncan Smith at the DWP.

But as if a high-profile Cabinet exit and hastily organised replacement was not enough for the DWP to deal with over the weekend, pensions minister Ros Altmann waded into the row with a personal statement of her own.

In it, Baroness Altmann claimed her former boss Mr Duncan Smith “championed the very package of reforms to disability benefits he now says is the reason he has resigned”.

Number 10 and HM Treasury had already told Mr Duncan Smith they would “pause and rethink” the cuts to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), she wrote.

Baroness Altmann’s letter said his resignation “really seems to be about the European referendum campaign rather that about DWP policy,” referring to Mr Duncan Smith’s decision to campaign for Britain to leave the EU, contrary to the Government’s position on the issue.

In his resignation letter, Mr Duncan Smith said he had “rather reluctantly” come to view the cuts to PIPs as “a compromise too far”.