England riots: IDS considers ending looters' benefits


Iain Duncan Smith: Crackdown on gangs should happen in all areas at the same time

People convicted but not jailed for rioting could be stripped of benefits under plans considered by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

He said he would prefer it that such an approach, if adopted, was carried out by the courts and not the government.

Currently, those jailed lose benefits but other punishments, like community service, do not prompt such a loss.

It comes as a split between Tories and Lib Dems has emerged over plans to evict families of rioters.

A wave of rioting, looting and arson spread from London to parts of the East and West Midlands, Merseyside, Bristol, Manchester and Gloucester last week.

The welfare secretary said he would like to see a system in which benefits were removed as part of the judicial process.

'Take consequences'

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We already accept that if people who are receiving benefits do not, are not prepared to seek work, take the work that's available to them, we take the benefit off them. And if you go to prison we take your benefit off you.

"So what we're looking at is, for criminal charges, should we take the benefit? And the answer is yes."

Mr Duncan Smith said he believed most people would recognise that "the first lesson you learn is that, when you do something willingly and you set out to do it that is criminal, then you must bear the consequences of what you do".

Asked about the welfare secretary's comments, Mr Cameron said: "He has my full support".

Writing in the Observer newspaper, Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes cautioned against "kneejerk solutions" in the wake of the riots and spoke of the importance of striving for a "responsible society" that did not take away "public support for the needy".

His sentiments were echoed by Lib Dem welfare spokeswoman Jenny Willott, who said such moves could make matters worse.

Several London authorities, including Southwark which encompasses Mr Hughes's constituency, have said they will seek to evict from council-owned homes people who are convicted of involvement in rioting.

On Friday, Wandsworth Council served a tenant with an eviction notice after that person's son appeared in court in connection with the Clapham Junction riot.

'Make things worse'

Prime Minister David Cameron and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles both said they thought plans to evict rioters from social housing were a good idea.

On Sunday, following Mr Hughes's comments about "kneejerk solutions" in response to rioting, the Lib Dem welfare spokeswoman told the Observer she was "very worried" about moves to cut benefits.

"One obvious problem would be that if people don't have money they would turn more to acquisitive crime," Ms Willott said.

"I completely understand people's desire to stamp out the problem, but it is important that we do not make things worse."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    There will be more and more people forced to claim benefits as less and less real jobs become available. How are the over 60;s going to react, when they are forced to find imaginary paid jobs because the pension date has been moved? DON'T demonize the benefit system, because it is the only line of resort for those struggling to find appropriate work in an overpopulated job market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    I notice more and more reference to those receiving benefits. By linking rioters with benefits, the news has successfully done what the government have wanted to do but have not been able to get away with. Now anyone receiving benefits of any sort will feel less worthy as human beings and feel even more ashamed of applying for support in times of great need. The rioters were not all on benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    You are so wrong, yes five people were sadly murdered in the rioting but if you look at the amount of people in the world who committed sucide, business gone bust or have suffered because of the bankers then the damage done by the bankers is infinitely more serious. Sadly we as a nation always put a value on everything and the £100 million cost of the riots is dwarfed by the bankers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    In response to the currently highest rated comment-
    "Why not make them work off the debt they owe society?"
    Because there are Millions of people unemployed in this country and there are no economically sound employment opportunities for 90% of the unemployed.
    Why should the taxpayer subsidize the uneconomic provision of "work" for these people before the more rewarding. Where have you been living.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    15th August 2011 - 13:50
    " The only way to deal with these miscreants is to either lock them up for a very long time, and if of another nationality, repatriated to their home country, or force them to clear up the mess that they created."

    Yes - it's hardly suprising that people were rioting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    How come I.D.S. is so quick to claim all the social unrest is the fault of unemployment or his cuts ? or is his government just making them "An easy target} to blame for they inhuman ideas' or the whipping boys ,of they savage unjust cuts to all the innocent people on benifits? His friends the greedy bankers get away with tax breaks' and massive bonus every day. the caused all the probelms

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    I'm fairly certain this proposal would be successfully challenged in the European courts. It's interesting that the Conservative response to social disorder is to press their boots down harder on our heads. The trend of explaining away the issue's root causes points to Conservative fears that there policies are compounding social deprivation rather than improving the lives of British citizens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    When someone is accused of a crime they are innocent until proven guilty. By seeking to put a system of benefit withdrawal in place upon accusation, Ian Duncan Smith is contemplating Perverting the Course of Justice. People wrongly accused will be punished for something they have not done. Which is a way of introducing stealth cuts by criminal conspiracy to steal from innocent benefits claimants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Most of the theft (looting) was by opportunists thinking they could get off "Scott Free". Vandalism was by a minority and did not involve race age or religious aspects.

    The problem with society is the Carrot and Stick approach.
    Normal people have been getting too much stick.
    Security of jobs; living and retirement standards are being eroded and taken away.

    To offset a stick there is NO CARROT !

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    So the plan is to force people to commit further crime and punish innocent people because a family member or house guest does something wrong.

    Vicious and just plain stupid.

    Clearly the knees are jerkin', but the brains ain't workin'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I've been on benefits for the last year, and once bills are paid, survive on about £20 a week. That is a privilage that few people in the world have, and I accept that means I can't afford luxuries. The 'money for nowt' menatlity of people is a disgrace, take away their benefits and let them see that society is there help you when your down, not give you beer money because you can't be bothered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    jl45, your language skills are limited, don't be so literal. Lloyds TSB et al has cost you/me and everyone in the country infinately more than a few hundred shabby little looters.

    Try telling that to the families of the 5 murdered men, you already put a value on there lives and decided it was too low to over take the bank bail out. The cost of the riots was infinitely more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Similarly for MPs who STEAL money by claiming expenses they aren't entiled to.

    Although they had to pay it back, all 1.2 million, and those that fiddled effectively had to give up there benefits and step down. Will rioters pay back to £100m the riots will end up costing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    155. corncobuk
    "If you have a morgage the bank owns it not you."

    Not true.

    "Perhaps such a clause should be placed into morgage agreements and private rental contracts, then we might see judicial parity"

    There is already parity. Neither party gets subsidised housing. I'm really not sure understand the issue - nor those who voted your misguided comment up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    166. Wiganese
    "But what of those convicted not on benefits?"

    What about them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    The riots are the result of the nanny state, where kids are "entitled" to everything, and don't have to earn it. We ae facing similar problems here in the USA. Obama wants to create a nanny state. My dad took a belt to me several times when I was a teenager. I am better because of it. These punks should be sent to military style boot camps to learn respect and discipline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    whilst i do not condone the action of the looters whatsoever we must be careful to apply the law and not make it up as we go along.
    We have seen MP's given punitive punishments and in most cases let off with repayment when in a position of trust.
    We have seen bankers destroy the economy with not one charge of negligence brought, is this really the right message we are sending ? are we all in it ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    IDS bandwagon jumping.
    So currently on the agenda is looters will be made homeless (unless they own it), have their benefits removed (so no income if jobless) and are not jailed but have a record so precious little chance of employment.
    Guess which career path they will probably be forced into ? Crime - joined up thinking this isn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Rather a silly comment, don't you think?
    We pay benefits, and subsidise many of these criminals, by giving them cheap or free housing. Those that own their own homes have paid for them themselves - without our aid, so why should any punishment involve them losing their home. Other penalties, certainly, but we should stop subsiding crooks out of the public purse. Let them pay privately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    @Big Cat

    "A petition on the government epetition website that requires 100,000 signatures has now reached 200,000."

    Those who haven't signed this already then please do so:


    This will make it increasingly harder for the political classes to ignore the will of the overwhelming majority thus giving them the genuine political will to make it happen


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