On Friday Iain Duncan Smith spoke to 150 Conservatives about his welfare reforms. I was part of the research project which led Iain to set a new course for Government in this area. Some years ago, with his Centre for Social Justice, he asked Conservative MPs to investigate social problems and try to experience what deprivation can be like. I had been involved in Inner City youth projects in earlier days and had given free legal advice through the Free Representation Unit and decided to volunteer to help Iain. I was asked to live in a homeless hostel for a week. The experience was a real eye-opener. Other colleagues did other tasks – Oliver Letwin spent time in prison, I believe.
Iain came to the conclusion that worklessness was the cause of many social problems. His plans to ensure that work always pays better than benefits and to give real help to job seekers through the Work Programme are widely supported. I am a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and we are very keen to help make Iain’s reforms work. I am now going to speak at a seminar about some of the details with the Westminster Policy Forum.