Tag Archives: iain duncan smith

DWP are 986,740 behind their original Universal Credit target

Iain Duncan Smith laughing

Suffice it to say that DWP are cock-a-hoop with the latest employment stats — turning the @dwppressoffice Twitter into a blizzard of pre-prepared infographics.

But there was another set of figures released today which they seem less keen on highlighting: Universal Credit. To August 2014 they’ve had 13,260 starters on the new benefit — a mere 986,740 behind their original goal for April of this year.

They’re even 170,740 behind their revised target of 184,000.

But that doesn’t matter to Iain Duncan Smith. He and his ministers are telling anyone that will listen that the implementation of his flagship policy is “stable and on track”.

Iain Duncan Smith (1 September): “it is stable and on track”

Mark Harper (10 September): “the Universal Credit Programme was stable and on track”

Mark Harper (11 September): “We are on track with this plan and we are making good progress.”

That’s because the whole thing has been given a ‘reset’ rating by the Major Projects Authority.

This is Sir Humphrey code for: ‘the whole thing is so f***ed that we might as well throw it in the bin and start from scratch’.

Iain Duncan Smith: the minister who is too crap to sack!

Iain Duncan Smith: liar, pants on fire

Collective head scratching at how Iain Duncan Smith has managed to keep his job at DWP. Two theories are doing the rounds. First: his special adviser doing a Dom Jolly on a train back from a ministerial visit, telling the whole carriage that he’s moving …

Iain Duncan Smith: adviser phone call on train

Second: so compelling is the evidence of Universal Credit’s failure that any new secretary of state would be unable to establish their credibility without admitting to grave problems with the system — inevitably adding to the chorus of claims that Duncan Smith has repeatedly misled parliament.

Either way, we’ve got more of this to look forward to:

And this isn’t even touching on the Bedroom Tax.

Speaker censures Bryant for telling truth about lying DWP ministers

Labour’s urgent question on Tory ministers’ grossly misleading Universal Credit claims set the scene for fiery Commons exchanges — with Speaker Bercow reprimanding shadow minister Chris Bryant (1:57 above) for effectively calling the DWP team liars:

“There has been so much beating about the bush that it is beginning to feel that this house has been misled by a government relying on a deliberate act of deception.”

Heaven forbid that a minister would seek to mislead MPs.

Did Esther McVey mislead Parliament over Universal Credit “chaos”?

Esther McVey and Iain Duncan SMith

Universal Credit is really on the ropes now — with the Public Accounts Committee forcing mandarins to admit that the Treasury hasn’t actually signed off on the project:

“We shouldn’t beat about the bush: it hasn’t been signed off. What we’ve had is a set of conditional reassurances about progress and the Treasury have released money accordingly. That is one of the key controls.”

This response from officials could put Esther McVey in real trouble — with the DWP minister having told parliament a week ago that the Treasury had “approved” the business case. Here’s what Esther McVey had to say for herself yesterday by way of explanation:

Stephen Timms: Is it the case, as the Minister said in her written answer on Monday last week, that the Treasury has approved the universal credit business case—yes or no?

Esther McVey: I have just had the answer that I gave last week checked. It stated:

“The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has approved the UC Strategic Outline Business Case plans for the remainder of this Parliament (2014-15) as per the ministerial announcement”

That was the response and I have just had it verified.

Stephen Timms: Will the Minister tell us, then, why the head of the civil service today told the Public Accounts Committee that the Treasury has not approved the universal credit business case?

Esther McVey: I will look into that additional point and get back to the right hon. Gentleman. On his last point, I have had the answer checked by my officials and it was correct.

But even Treasury ministers can’t bring themselves to say “yes” when asked directly whether they signed off. Weasel-ey McVey could find the qualification “for the remainder of this parliament” is all that stands between her and an apology to the Commons.

Apparently the whole programme is on a “drip feed” of money to keep it going … a bit like Iain Duncan Smith’s career, then.

IDS loses legal bid on Universal Credit secrets: will he now use veto?

Iain Duncan Smith laughing

As regular readers will recall, Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP have been throwing money at increasingly desperate legal bids to keep a number of documents related to the Universal Credit programme under wraps — and they’ve just lost. Again.

With IDS’ critics claiming that he may have misled parliament on the progress (or utter lack of progress) on Universal Credit, the work and pensions secretary’s only remaining option would be to invoke a ministerial veto:

The veto is rarely used but here’s a list courtesy of the House of Commons Library:

  • February 2009: contents of the legal advice on war in Iraq.
  • Two subsequent vetoes on devolution issues.
  • May 2012: blocking the release of the NHS Transitional Risk Register
  • July 2012: blocking extracts from Cabinet minutes on war in Iraq
  • October 2012: blocking correspondence from Prince Charles to departments
  • January 2014: documents related to High Speed 2

The release of these documents could arguably be as damaging to the government — not to mention Iain Duncan Smith personally — as the NHS Risk Register or HS2 files. The fallout from a veto could be weathered as it has been at least four times under the coalition.

We already know IDS has zero respect for other forms of scrutiny such as select committees — and department’s official response is not encouraging either:

“We remain confident that we’ve fulfilled our duties in publishing information and details on Universal Credit and been open and honest”

One rule for us. Another for them.

Delusional Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith: liar, pants on fire

Headlining this afternoon’s House of Commons Comedy Revue — also known as DWP questions — was one Iain Duncan Smith. Here are his best one liners so far (watch live here).

On the government’s Universal Jobmatch website, which lists vacancies for porn stars and mafia hit men alongside thousands of fraudulent non-existent job listings from scammers:

“This is a major success story.”

On his flagship reform, which should have one million people enrolled but boasts just a few thousand:

“Universal Credit is on track to roll out against the timetable set out last year”

In summary:

“These are all records of success of welfare reform”

How they laughed.

In denial: Charities line up to link food bank use with benefits regime

Esther McVey and Iain Duncan SMith

Ministers have been told they are “in denial” after a series of charities told a committee that the government’s harsh new benefits regime is driving food bank use.

Written submissions from bodies such as Oxfam and Barnardos to a Scottish Parliament committee, whose report on food banks is published today,  emphasise DWP’s culpability.  But heartless employment minister Esther McVey still claimed three weeks ago that there is “no robust evidence linking food bank usage to welfare reform”.

“No robust evidence” apart from that academic study commissioned by the Scots Government …

“Providers who participated in the study were in agreement that welfare reform, benefit delays, benefit sanctions and falling incomes have been the main factors driving the recent trend observed of increased demand for food aid”

… and what everyone involved with provision of emergency food aid told the committee:

“An increasing number of people are being referred to foodbanks because they have been sanctioned for what some frontline professionals have described as ‘trivial reasons'” — Trussell Trust

“Cuts to the levels of welfare support such as cuts to housing benefit entitlement … Delays in getting benefits, combined with a stricter sanction regime for claimants” — Barnardos

“Since the changes to the benefit system, requests for food parcels have increased by more than fifty per cent” — Christian charity Loaves and Fishes

“Bedroom tax causing people to have debt problems because they cannot afford the additional costs … Sanctions on benefits causing people to seek additional help” — Community Food Moray

“More people are coming to food banks as they are subject to delays in payment of benefit, sanctions by Job Centre Plus, have exhausted their savings to pay the bedroom tax …” — Community Food Initiatives North East

“It is clear that many people turning to emergency food banks are experiencing some sort of benefit delay or sanction.” — Oxfam Scotland

McVey has turned down a request for a public meeting with the committee.

Judge smashes DWP attempts to keep Universal Credit reports secret

  • Judge rules there would be no chilling effect in releasing Universal Credit reports
  • FOI tribunal refuses Iain Duncan Smith leave to appeal against the court’s decision
  • DWP continues to pour thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money into failing legal attempt to keep files secret

Iain Duncan Smith: liar, pants on fire

A judge has smashed Iain Duncan Smith’s attempt to keep potentially damning reports on Universal Credit secret.

The ruling completely undermines the DWP’s claim that there would be a ‘chilling effect’ if the reports were published.

It’s thought the documents could provide a ‘smoking gun’ which proves conclusively that Duncan Smith and the DWP misled parliament with their optimistic assessments of progress on the programme.

As Scrapbook reported, the documents were requested by campaigners under the Freedom of Information act in March last year.

After a year of pouring thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money into a failing legal attempt to keep the reports secret, the ICO gave a final decision in March that all four reports should be published.

The documents include:

  • Project Assessment Review — periodic high level review of large project
  • Issues Register — details of problems and failures
  • High Level Milestone Schedule — sequence of activities and timings

The DWP were hopping mad at the ICO tribunal’s decision – describing it as “perverse”, and claiming they’d made “errors of law.”

But a second tier tribunal upheld the decision to order disclosure yesterday, with Judge David Farrer QC saying there was no evidence of a chilling effect.

The DWP now has 28 days to decide whether it wants to throw yet more taxpayers’ cash at a losing battle.

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