Is Iain Duncan Smith legalising breach of contract?

Iain 'Daftie' Duncan Smith before a previous hearing of the Work and Pensions committee.

Iain ‘Daftie’ Duncan Smith before a previous hearing of the Work and Pensions committee.

Here’s something mentioned during Iain Duncan Smith’s session before the Commons Work and Pensions committee last week, that doesn’t seem to have enjoyed enough attention: It seems Daftie Duncan Smith wants to legalise breach of contract.

He reckons part-time workers should be sanctioned off their top-up benefits if they refuse extra hours offered by their employer.

The sanctions would apply under the Universal Credit system – which is never going to work anyway – so perhaps this is an inconsequential matter, but it is disturbing that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions understands so little about contracts of employment that he thinks this is a reasonable way to behave.

He told the Work and Pensions committee: “That is being investigated, as to whether we can now work to in-work sanctions – in other words, conditionality – so people get an opportunity to move up the hours if they can, and if they don’t wish to do that, we will see whether or not that system of conditionality works.”

Perhaps he doesn’t realise that some people are only able to work a certain number of hours per week, and that any increase means they will not be able to continue in the job. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that this will make them unemployed, and his “conditionality” prank means that they would be sanctioned off being able to claim benefits for a period of time after that, meaning they would be doubly punished for a situation that was not their fault.

Perhaps he doesn’t care. Yes, that seems more likely.

He certainly doesn’t understand contract law. When two parties enter into a contract of employment, it is a binding agreement on both of them – and if it is not honoured by either party – for example, if the employer tells the employee that their hours of work will be extended, rather than negotiating a change in the contract that is agreeable to both – then that party is said to be in breach of that contract.

And does this not open HM Revenue and Customs up to a potential explosion of Income Tax and National Insurance fraud?

Look at the situation Vox Political reported recently, in which a JSA claimant interviewed for a job lasting 22.5 hours per week and then had to turn it down when managers tried to increase the hours to 40; the employer told the Job Centre and he was sanctioned.

He had his benefit reinstated when he reported the employer for potential tax evasion and then told JSA decision makers what he had done, making it clear that he did not see why his benefit should be docked for refusing to take part in an illegal act.

Did Daftie consider this? Or did he think it would be okay because his government wants to reduce the amount of Income Tax it receives anyway, in order to justify cutting public services or selling them off to fatcat tax-avoiding businesspeople?

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11 thoughts on “Is Iain Duncan Smith legalising breach of contract?

  1. chopale

    We are still a member of the E.U. And this Excuse of a being needs dragging off to the (European court of rights) And his head put on a spike at the tower.

  2. Mr.Angry

    IDS has been in breach in every aspect of law since 2010, the insane being is bemused.

    The breach I would love to see him in is that of a cannon pointing out to the channel over the white cliffs of Dover. Can you imagine the street parties !!!!!! He is unbalanced and needs help seriously.

  3. hate the bloke!

    he’s vile! I’ll never ever forget nor forgive what his policy’s done to my life long friend and neighbour! he’s a callous b*****d that needs to be brought to task! before it scurries off into the back benches come may!

  4. wildswimmerpete

    “It seems Daftie Duncan Smith wants to legalise breach of contract.”

    Well he “legalised” his recent ex post facto legislation and got away with it. How can Smith continue giving the finger to the judiciary with such impunity?

  5. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Mike you know my thoughts on the contract issue. It’s one thing being devious and clever because at least you can reason with that type of person. IDS is stupid and devious and there is an old Eastern European saying which goes like this….
    ” never teach a pig to sing for it annoys the pig and wastes your time” meaning we are wasting our time trying to educate pork!

    My solution…if he brings this in and anyone is sanctioned as a result; fill in a particulars of claim form, citing IDS as the defendant. (the fee can be waived if you are on a low income) Go to the County Court, tell it to the judge and get this pr**ck sorted out once and for all!

  6. Maureen Coffey

    “Perhaps he doesn’t realise that some people are only able to work a certain number of hours per week …” the problem with career politicians is they don’t understand “the workplace”. And the problem goes even deeper: civil servant “job counsellors” don’t understand it either as they can’t be made redundant nor do they work in a competitive environment nor do they understand the division of labour within larger working environments.

  7. Mark Bevis

    This is already in the Universal Credit rules. It is called the Minimum Income Floor, if you don’t know about it, you need to do a massive article on it.
    Basically, UC is being set up to fail. If you earn the equivalent of 35 hours at minimum wage or more, you’ll be fully eligible, but the amount you get won’t be much anyway. And what you get you will partly lose in the income tax you pay (unless the Lib-Dem plans to increase tax allowance to £12.5 come in).

    However, if you don’t earn the minimum wage equivalent for your circumstances, either because of low hours, low wages or self-employment (like me), then under UC you will be subject to sanctions if you don’t look for more work or better paid work. In addition, they will assume you have worked the minimum wage and pay your UC accordingly. This is called the Minimum Income Floor.
    In other words, if you are poor, we’ll help you a bit, but if you are really poor, we’ll sanction you even if you are working.

    Many self-employed currently on WTC and HB get by on less than the minimum wage, doing art, music, pet-walking/sitting, butty shops, crafts, etc, etc, most of whom will be thrown into abject poverty by UC. The additional crap is that we have to report income and expenditure on line every month. As anyone self employed knows, this is ridiculous, as you don’t have an average monthly income. One month you might say buy £2K of tools, giving a net loss that month, but two months later earn £4K, this being too much for UC that month, then have 8 months at £1K, just below the Minimum Income Floor.

    So in the end a lot of such people will just not bother claiming, rather than taking the sanctions, and the government will be able to say, look people in work moving off UC, it is working. Utter tosh, it’s obviously designed to fail! That is how they will save the £35b they claim through UC, by making it pay less to the really poor.

    They might argue that why should they subsidise low income self-employment (a survey by DWP shows this will affect 600,000 people). But that arguement is false, as they subsidise big corporations to the tune of billions more than they will spend on UC.

    The biggest problem of all this is that HB is being rolled into UC – someone might survive on HB or WTC and perhaps lose one, but to lose both will probably end up making a lot of working people homeless.

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