Iain Duncan Smith fights many battles to lop £20bn from the welfare bill

David Cameron can hardly sack the former leader who embodies compassionate Conservatism

Iain Duncan Smith is working very long hours – he is in the office from the crack of dawn until late. In the eyes of friends, he is working too hard on getting people to get more people to work. “What’s detaining him at the moment,” one says, “is gathering real-time information on how everyone in the country works – who, when, and how – to programme into his models.” He’s like a futurist sociologist of the 1920s, hoovering up statistics to get perfect knowledge about a society.

The work and pensions secretary’s universal credit (UC) will eventually be able to update the changed work status of someone as soon as they switch jobs. It will minimise or eliminate the difference between the level of money they receive whether they are in or out of work. It’s a big deal; the most ambitious reform to the welfare state, some say.

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