IDS: Have more than two kids and we’ll take away benefits

By Charles Maggs

Families dependent on benefits could have the amount they receive limited when they have two children, the work and pensions secretary said today.

Iain Duncan-Smith believes that limiting state handouts to poor families will lead to more responsible family planning and prevent hereditary worklessness.

"All too often, government's response to social breakdown has been a classic case of 'patching’ — a case of handing money out, containing problems and limiting the damage but, in doing so, supporting, even reinforcing, dysfunctional behaviour," he will say.

"You have to ask which bits of the system are most important in changing lives. And you have to look at which parts of the system promote positive behaviours and which are actually promoting destructive ones."

It will be Duncan-Smith's first major speech on welfare reform since agreeing to an extra £10 billion of cuts to his department in the next round of spending cuts, likely to kick in after 2015.

In a speech to thinktank Cambridge Public Policy he is expected to refer to the Beverage report – the founding document of the modern welfare state – which looked to eradicate 'idlesness' as well as other social problems.

It is unclear how his Liberal Democrat colleagues will respond to the latest announcement, given that senior party figures including leader Nick Clegg and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander have publicly voiced their opposition to more welfare spending cuts.

David Cameron had tried to move Duncan-Smith from his post in the summer re-shuffle but he refused to budge, clearly damaging the PM's authority.