Scotland

Iain Duncan Smith heckled by protesters in Edinburgh

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Media captionWork and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was heckled by protesters as he gave a speech on welfare reform in Edinburgh.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been heckled by anti-cuts protesters during a speech in Edinburgh.

Mr Duncan Smith had just been called to speak when campaigner Willie Black rose to his feet and shouted "you're a rat bag" at the politician.

Mr Black had booked himself into the George Hotel in Edinburgh the night before.

He told the BBC he had breakfast and then made his way to the conference room in the hotel in time for Mr Duncan Smith's speech.

When the secretary of state rose to his feet Mr Black called out: "You are creating a new poll tax and we are going to see the end of you back to England, where you belong, you rat bag."

Mr Duncan Smith replied: "It is always good to be welcomed."

Mr Black was then escorted from the conference room and Mr Duncan Smith continued with his speech.

Image caption Willie Black told Mr Duncan Smith he was creating a new poll tax

Then two disabled protesters stood up and shouted out.

They said: "We want social justice and equality ... We're coming for you."

The two, and their guide dog, were then escorted from the room.

Outside Jonathan Smith and Charli Saben Fox explained why they had interrupted Mr Duncan Smith's speech.

Mr Smith who receives income support, disability living allowance and housing benefit said: "If we don't do it then we may as well just go out and shoot ourselves.

"A bullet in the head is probably easier, kinder to most of us than just letting us rot away."

Charli Saben Fox, whose son has learning difficulties and is disabled herself, said: "If they take away everything from us we have nothing to lose.

"That means we have everything to fight for and that is what we are going to do.

"Iain Duncan Smith has got a fight on his hands if he thinks we are just going to lay down and die."

Earlier, the BBC understands Mr Duncan Smith had held private meetings with the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and the Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

Mr Rennie's party conference recently voted for a rethink on changes to housing benefit which will see people lose benefits if they are deemed to have spare bedrooms in their property.

Housing benefit

Ms Sturgeon's government has called on the UK government to scrap what they call the "bedroom tax".

Labour will use an emergency question at Holyrood to ask the Scottish government if they will bring in emergency legislation to stop local councils and housing associations evicting tenants if they run up arrears as a result of housing benefit changes.

But her housing minister Margaret Burgess ruled this out saying: "What we would have then is lots of tenants and people running up debts and landlords struggling to balance the books and their rent accounts."

Ms Burgess said the cost of the housing benefit changes in Scotland could be £65m and that was money her government did not have available to compensate councils and social landlords.

She continued: "For us to do that would be asking to use Scottish government funding for devolved matters, money we would have to take from health, from education or from our police services to pay for a reserved matter.

"The bedroom tax lies squarely on the shoulders of the Westminster government and we will continue to fight them on this."

First Minister Alex Salmond pledged no SNP council would evict tenants who ran into financial trouble as a result of the welfare changes.

In a BBC interview, Mr Duncan Smith defended his housing benefit reforms saying the current system was unfair.

He said: "It is unfair on taxpayers, it is unfair on those in over-crowded accommodation and it is unfair that one group of housing benefit tenants cannot have spare bedrooms and another group are subsidised.

"When is someone going to speak up for the overcrowded and those who suffer on waiting lists waiting for their housing because of mis-management here in Scotland and across the United Kingdom."

Mr Duncan Smith also added his policy was not cutting the welfare bill but slowing its growth to try to help reduce the deficit and get more people into work.