A petition has been launched calling for MP Iain Duncan Smith to be stripped off his knighthood.
More than 20,000 people have already signed the petition against the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions after it was announced that he has been given a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.
The decision to knight the former Conservative minister has sparked fury amongst his opponents, years after he was criticised for laughing during a Bedroom Tax debate and shedding ‘crocodile tears’ online.
The Chingford and Woodford Green MP is known as the ‘architect’ of Universal Credit , the system of benefits which rolls a number of state payments into one, supposedly simplifying the process.
Around 1.9 million people have been left £1,000 worse off a year and many have been forced onto the streets due to lengthy delays before their first payments and punitive sanctions.
The petition, set up by Dr Mona Kamal Ahmed, a NHS psychiatrist, attributes this and claims Mr Smith was responsible for “some of the cruellest most extreme welfare reforms this country has ever seen”.
It says that under his leadership, the “UK became the first ever country to face a United Nations enquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people” and that the “suffering and impoverishment” seen in the UK today are a “direct result of the welfare reforms he has implemented”.
In her explanation, Dr Ahmed writes that she has frequently witnessed people diagnosed with chronic mental illness in A&E who have been driven to panic attacks as a result of the anxiety caused by these tests and over the prospect of losing the welfare payments they rely on.
The doctor has previously written extensively about the Tory government cutting funding for people with mental health, which she argues is one of the most vulnerable patient groups.
She ends by saying Mr Duncan Smith’s knighthood is “an insult to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable individuals across this country who are suffering as a result of his policies and to those who have tragically lost loved ones as a direct result.”
Last night, he was congratulated by colleagues on Twitter , with former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeting: “I have never worked alongside someone more willing to face unpopularity for standing up for his deeply held principles and moral convictions”.
But he also received backlash from several others, including Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy, who said: “This is a disgraceful decision by Boris Johnson to reward a legacy of cruelty and failure.
“This regime deliberately removed the safety net. It stripped people of their dignity. There is no honour in that.”
Other high profile awards have been given to NHS head Simon Stevens and civil service chief executive John Manzoni.
To sign the petition, click here.