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September 23, 2015

The return of the quiet man

In 2002 Iain Duncan Smith experienced his much reported epiphany on the streets of Easterhouse. ‘He gets it’ declared Bob Holman, long-time community worker and resident. And off went IDS back to London to cogitate on the future of welfare. Given what we know now of his welfare reforms, it would be interesting to know what he made of his visit to Easterhouse and how it helped shape his thinking. He’s either a brave man or extremely foolhardy because he’s making a return visit and his host for the day will have the chance to ask him.


Andy Philip, The Daily Record

A CHARITY leader yesterday warned Iain Duncan Smith that he will face a tough reception when he revisits Easterhouse .

The Work and Pensions Secretary accepted an invitation to return to the housing scheme east of Glasgow.

He famously claimed to have had an “epiphany” on his first visit in 2002.

But the area has been badly hit by his welfare reforms .

Pauline Smith, chief executive of Connect Community Trust, said the Department for Work and Pensions undermined promises to help locals by cutting £100,000 of funding for the year ahead.

She said: “We’ll be as welcoming as we are with everyone.

“But we won’t be shy and neither will our clients as we’re having to turn people away because we don’t have DWP funding this year.” The Connect support network helped 1344 people last year and got 267 into work.

Smith previously met Duncan Smith and explained the problems faced by some of the most vulnerable people in Easterhouse.

She said that without help by voluntary groups, claimants would face “unlimited sanctions” – when welfare payments stop over minor infringements to Jobcentre rules.

Smith added: “He will meet people deemed fit to work who have addiction issues to overcome and are not yet ready for work.

“He will meet people who are so distressed because they’ve never worked for 25 years and he will see people that have been sanctioned coming to us for help.”

Linda Cameron of Provanhall Housing Association said her organisation are stepping in to sort out the mess made by the Tories.

She said: “We would welcome Mr Duncan Smith to see the adverse effect his policies are having on people’s lives.”

Local MP Natalie McGarry secured the promise of a visit after writing to Duncan Smith last month. Employment Minister Priti Patel confirmed Duncan Smith “will be very happy to visit”.

The DWP could not confirm a date for the visit last night