Iain Duncan-Smith, the Secretary for Work and Pensions, faces calls to quit after his department’s admission that it fabricated quotes to promote its benefit cuts.
A petition demanding his resignation has already attracted more than 30,000 signatures on its first day.
The Independent reports: The Department for Work and Pensions was forced to admit it had made up comments from supposed “benefit claimants” earlier this week.
The fake quotes appeared on leaflets that offered ‘case studies’ of people who had apparently been helped by the strict new benefit sanctions system introduced by Mr Duncan Smith under the Coalition Government.
The petition accuses Mr Duncan Smith of “lying” to the British public over the use of the “fantasy” case studies.
In a strongly-worded attack on the Government, it claims the benefit rules, which punishes claimants for failing to meet a strict checklist of requirements, is “driving people to suicide”.
“People are resorting to stealing food in order to not starve,” the petition claims. “Sanctions do not encourage people to get jobs. Sanctions are known to be given to people for extremely minor reasons such as being five minutes late for an appointment.
“If someone has a heart-attack or has to attend a family members’ funeral and misses an appointment – they could be sanctioned and lose their benefits.
It continues: “Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is ultimately responsible for the actions of those in his department, who produced the propaganda leaflet containing lies, presenting a fantasy of positive stories about sanctions. This distorts the truth, which is that people are dying due to sanctions.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The case studies were used for illustrative purposes to help people understand how the benefit system works. They’re based on conversations our staff have had with claimants. They have now been removed to avoid confusion.”