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Duncan Smith denies agreeing cuts

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith denied that he had signed up to £4 billion of spending cuts to the welfare budget.

Mr Duncan Smith acknowledged that he would have to find savings in the Government's forthcoming spending review but said he was still in negotiations with the Treasury.

Giving evidence to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, he disclosed that Chancellor George Osborne was demanding proof that his planned reforms to the welfare system - to make it easier to get claimants back into jobs - would work.

Mr Duncan Smith insisted that he did not recognise press reports over the summer that his officials had been involved in bitter clashes with the Treasury.

He also dismissed reports last week that he was facing a further £4 billion cut in welfare spending - on top of the £11 billion announced in the Budget - after Mr Osborne signalled fresh curbs on benefits.

"We haven't reached any conclusions about this at all. As regards figures like £4 billion, I simply don't recognise that figure at all," he said.

"I have made no commitment to savings in the spending round because that is a matter of discussion between myself, the Treasury and Downing Street generally."

He insisted that reform of the system was essential if the Government was to achieve long-term saving to the welfare budget as past attempts to cut benefits had simply seen payments "balloon" back up.

"We have to make savings, that is clear. My view is that we will better make savings by reforming the system. That is part of the whole area of discussions that we have," he said.

He said that Mr Osborne was insisting on seeing evidence that his proposals would work before he would agree the plan.

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