Hit or Miss? Iain Duncan Smith takes issue with the Big Issue

Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith yesterday trained his sights on the Big Issue magazine as he addressed the issue of tax credits and immigration.

Iain Duncan Smith: Attacked the Big Issue
Iain Duncan Smith: Attacked the Big Issue

Answering questions on welfare policy following a speech in Berlin, Duncan Smith said that the magazine - which is sold by homeless people – was being used by migrants to claim benefits. 

"What is happening progressively, more and more, is people mostly from southern and eastern Europe have actually ended up being Big Issue sellers and they claim, as self-employed, immediately, tax credits," he said.

The Big Issue hit back, stating that the problems were "inherent in a benefits system created by the Government".

How I see it 

Emily Wallace, director, Connect Communications

Politicians need to be careful when singling out organisations as an example of a problem, and Iain Duncan Smith should know better. 

Is he right to address issues relating to immigration and benefits? Absolutely. 

According to the monthly Mori issues index the public sees it as the second most important issue facing Britain, only just behind the economy. UKIP has tapped into this spectacularly and its recent success is in part built on its willingness to talk openly about immigration as an issue.

But was this a good way to engage on this territory? Absolutely not.

The story became Duncan Smith attacks the Big Issue, which not only is a popular brand and respected charity, but also meant he completely failed to deliver a strong message around the Conservative policy on ‘benefit tourism’ or being tough on immigration. His singling out of the Big Issue, in practice, only served to narrow the story and distort the message.

 

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