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    PM on holiday amid coalition rift rumours


    by ODN


    Suggestions of a rift between George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have been rejected by a senior minister.

    Universities minister David Willetts said he was "not aware" of any friction between the Chancellor and the Work and Pensions Secretary.

    The intervention came amid reports that the Chancellor and Mr Duncan Smith had a blazing row over the up-front costs of proposals for reforming the benefits system.

    But Mr Willetts said: "I know sitting around the Cabinet table with them that George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith are both absolutely committed to reforming our welfare system which just is not working at the moment - and, of course, to achieving significant public savings in that area."

    Mr Duncan Smith wants to introduce a new benefits system that would ensure people in work are always better off than the unemployed. But the Treasury is believed to be concerned about the initial £3 billion outlay at a time when budgets are being slashed across the rest of Whitehall.

    The reports of rifts in the coalition come as Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha were pictured enjoying a two-week break in London.