Crippen wonders just how bad you have to be to get knighted?!

Get knighted

Iain Duncan Smith MP, the architect of the universal credit benefits system which left thousands of disabled people without benefits and for some, little incentive to continue with their lives, has been awarded a knighthood for services to the Conservative Party.

As work and pensions secretary with the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) for six years from 2010, Duncan Smith was the central figure as significant cuts were made to benefit and disability entitlements during the peak of the Conservative-led austerity period. Some of these cuts led to many disabled people taking their own lives as their benefits were stopped, leaving them nothing to live on.

He was also responsible for recruiting the French company ATOS who undertook benefit assessments on behalf of the DWP. Over 70% of the disabled people who ‘failed’ the assessment and had their benefits stopped, had them reinstated after an appeal. The cruel and inhuman way in which the assessments were undertaken were also laid at the door of Duncan-Smith, along with helping preside over a rhetorical culture centred on “shirkers” and “scroungers”, which charities said led to an increase in abuse against disabled people.

He also introduced emergency legislation to reverse the outcome of a court of appeal decision and “protect the national economy” from a £130m pay out to jobseekers deemed to have been unlawfully punished by the DWP. The retroactive legislation effectively changed a decision by three senior judges and denied benefit claimants an average pay out of between £530 and £570 each.

While it is not uncommon for long-serving MPs, particularly former party leaders, to receive honours, Duncan Smith’s knighthood was met with criticism from opposition parties because of his record on benefits.

Labour criticised the decision to honour “the primary architect of the cruel universal credit system, which has pushed thousands of people into poverty”, while the Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said the award “beggars’ belief”.

Description of cartoon for those people using screen reading software

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP is stood on top of a pile of skulls. He is wearing his investiture gown and a coronet (from when he was knighted). In his hand is a skull. He is saying to it: “Alas poor claimant – I knew him well!”

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