Iain Duncan Smith thinks he is good enough to be a Government Minister.

Someone fit to be a Government Minister wouldn't set up a scheme that helps firms not only to avoid the legal minimum wage, but actually to make people work unpaid or lose their unemployment benefit, mostly with no paid work at the end of it ("Smith defiant over free-work scheme", The Herald, February 18).

Research on Workfare in other countries commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2008 concluded: "There is little evidence that Workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers."

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DWP guidelines for Workfare providers warn that offering a job at the end of a Workfare placement could breach the national minimum wage law.

A decent Government Minister wouldn't tell the unemployed that Workfare placements were compulsory when the law passed by Parliament only allowed voluntary placements. Nor would they force them to stop unpaid work they enjoyed for a museum, a public asset, for unpaid work for the profit of a company.

They would not make a personal attack on someone who objected to this treatment, accusing Cait Reilly of thinking she is "too good to stack shelves" and having an "unacceptable" attitude, when what she actually objected to was being lied to and forced to work unpaid for the profit of a company ("Government back-to-work scheme ruled unlawful", The Herald, February 12).

Someone fit to be a Government Minister would not tour the country in opposition, assuring the unemployed, the poor and the disabled he would fight their corner in Government, before approving a 21st-century workhouse. They wouldn't have a French IT company removing benefits from the genuinely disabled after failing to look at their medical records and GPs' diagnoses. They wouldn't be trying to take away any right of appeal against such rulings. They wouldn't approve a bedroom tax that will make thousands homeless.

Iain Duncan Smith is not fit to be a local councillor never mind a Government Minister.

Duncan McFarlane,


Braidwood, Carluke.

One of the several challenges in using moral pressure in order to prevent tax avoidance is the fact that in law, wealth can be placed offshore quite legally. There is estimated to be more than £1 trillion of British money in legal tax havens, many of which (Cayman Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Channel Islands, Gibraltar and Isle of Man) are under British jurisdiction ("Naming and shaming of tax avoiders is long overdue", The Herald, February 19).

The Prime Minister's father Ian Cameron had an offshore investment fund, Blairmore Holdings, based in Panama. Blairmore was Mr Cameron senior's old family home (now sold) in Aberdeenshire on the river Deveron. David Cameron has talked proudly of his dad who, though disabled, worked hard and made a fortune.

A stockbroker for most of his life, he shifted occupations after Margaret Thatcher's Government liberalised controls on the export of capital.

Entirely legal, these offshore tax-free funds proved highly popular within the very wealthy UK community.

Offshore companies promote the standard tax-free offer to high net worth investors enabling them to avoid tax ie no UK corporation tax and no UK income tax on dividends.

Indeed the brochure promoting Blairmore stated in 2006: "The affairs of the fund should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the UK for UK tax purposes."

So long as these offshore tax-free centres operate outside the UK tax regime, investment funds, foreign sales corporations, offshore banks and trusts may legitimately operate and tax avoidance will remain a regular part of business practice.

Thom Cross,

18 Needle Green,


With the opening of a food bank in our local church, I was surprised by my own anger as the statistics unfolded.

Four million people in the UK cannot afford a decent diet. There are 250 food banks across the UK catering for the unemployed and employed whose wages and benefits do not come in time for them to cover fuel and food.

This very necessary and worthy idea is not instigated by the Government. Nor does it provide for those living what might be described as "chaotic lifestyles" – using alcohol or drugs. This is something new, especially for the 21st century.

As a war baby, my generation experienced poverty in the 1940s and again in the 1970s, but not even that and the fear of Hitler's invasion reduced us to the level that this bullying and callous Government has managed by its attacks on the poor, the sick and the disabled. Why are we not marching in protest?

Maureen McNeil,

1 Forest Grover, Kilmarnock.