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150k sign petition after UK Minister says he could live on €63 a week

The petition was set up to challenge Iain Duncan Smith to prove that he would be able to survive on benefits.

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith
Image: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

MORE THAN 150,000 people have signed a petition calling on a senior British minister to prove that he could survive on benefits of £53 (around €63) a week.

The petition on Change.org was set up after Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said he could live on that amount when asked about major welfare cuts on a BBC breakfast radio show on Monday. Duncan Smith told a presenter: “If I had to [live on that amount] I would”.

A market trader who spoke on the radio show had said that he was living on £53 a week since his housing benefits had been cut.

Duncan Smith’s claim came on the day that a large range of measures rolling back the current welfare system and reducing the amount of money many recipients receive came into force. The welfare cuts have been dubbed the start of “Black April” by the opposition Labour party.

The petition says that Duncan Smith would be living on 3 per cent of his current income if he accepted the challenge, as he currently earns £1,581 a week after tax.

The petition calls on Duncan Smith to live on £7.57 a day or £53 a week for at least a year. “This would help realise the Conservative Party’s current mantra that ‘We are all in this together’,” the petition says.

The Guardian notes that a numbers of MPs have previously attempted to live on small amounts of money, including one Labour MP who last month tried to spend no more than £18 (€21) a week on food.

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