Lib Dem slams "nasty" housing benefit cuts
No one doubts Iain Duncan Smith's personal mission to help the poorest in society.
But the Work and Pensions Secretary is facing a new Liberal Democrat revolt over his proposed crackdown on housing benefit.
Many Lib-Dems are not opposing the principle of his reforms based on the fact that people on benefit should not be getting a huge cheque from the taxpayer, sometimes more than £100,000-a-year, to live in homes out of the reach of many hard-working families.
They are concerned, though, about the practical impact of some of the current proposals, particularly on London.
"It's really, really pernicious, nasty stuff from this government and they're clearly Conservative-led policy changes," says Stephen Knight, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Richmond-upon-Thames council.
"But in my view Liberal Democrat MPs and ministers have not done nearly enough to prevent these from coming through either."
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes is to meet Mr Duncan Smith today to push for the reforms to be tweaked so as London Mayor Boris Johnson says, they are introduced "humanely". Remember, he warned against "Kosovo-style social cleansing" in the capital by the welfare reforms.
Mr Hughes is particularly concerned about the overall £26,000-a-year benefit cap for families which can be reached for large households in the capital very quickly given high housing benefit bills.
Housing charity Shelter fuelled the rebellion today with a poll showing that two thirds of Conservative councillors and four out of five Lib Dems object to plans to limit rises in local housing allowance rates to CPI inflation from 2013 - rather than setting them in relation to local rent costs.
It also found nearly half of Lib Dems are concerned that housing benefit cuts may increase local homelessness.
Mr Duncan Smith has attacked "scare stories" that thousands of families will be forced from their homes by the benefit changes. He says such reports are causing unnecessary distress.
Blaming the current housing benefit situation on Labour, he adds: "A small number of people may have to move and we are providing local authorities an additional £190 million over the next four years to smooth the transition.
"Instead of complaining, responsible councils should be working to effectively implement these policies, and recognise that we are trying to get people off benefits and into work, and drive the cost of the benefits bill to taxpayers down."
MPs in London will hope that Mr Duncan Smith is right. His criticism of some of the reports of tens of thousands of people being forced to move because of the welfare shake-up may be valid.
Harder to dismiss, though, is an internal report by Tory-led Westminster council which showed that up to 43 per cent of primary school children in Maida Vale may have to move. Even if this is a worst case scenario, it is still alarming.