Iain Duncan Smith, the UK’s Work and Pensions Secretary, has reportedly been butting heads with the British civil service in his efforts to reform the country’s large benefits system for a new austerity-led economy.
It hasn’t always been polite.
A column published today in the Times of London revealed that when Duncan Smith heard a member of his staff being “berated” by a member of the Treasury, he grabbed the phone and shouted:
“If you ever speak to my officials like that again I’ll bite your balls off and send them to you in a box.”
The controversy seems to surround a key part of his benefits plan — a pilot scheme called “Universal Credit” launched this week, which aims to use higher standards and more accurate data to ensure benefits payments only go to those that really need it.
Some people at the Treasury, however, were apparently stalling in hopes of killing off the plan — part of the UK’s cilvil service’s ” institutional resistance to reform”, the Times writes. In particular, complicated technical aspects to the plan may have led to the civil service dragging their feet.
The Daily Mail reports that the comment is believed to have come back in 2010, though sources said that Duncan Smith did not say “bite”.
Duncan Smith has been a regular feature in the British press recently, after his claim that he could live on £53 ($80.60) a week led to widespread criticism and an online petition demanding he actually do it.
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