Tag Archives: iain duncan smith

Tory councillor pointed gun at neighbour in row over pet cat

Nick Buckmaster cat

A Tory councillor’s political career lies in tatters after he pointed a gun at his next door neighbourin a row over damage caused by a pet cat. Armed police swooped on an address in Chingford, Essex after Cllr Nick Buckmaster aimed an airgun at his neighbour while yelling:

“I know who you are. I know what you do. I know everything about you”

He then put the weapon down and, errrr,  rugby tackled his victim on the front lawn. Buckmaster — who is still a Conservative councillor — pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

A colleague of local MP Iain Duncan Smith, the cabinet minister was previously forced to deny claims that the councillor was party to “intimidating” behaviour at a consultation event.

Bailed to appear for sentencing on 16 May, Buckmaster has been ordered to stay out of the postcode E4  – which will make campaigning slightly difficult.

Official: Bedroom Tax is failure

Iain Duncan Smith

All you need to know about the Bedroom Tax:

1 July 2013:

Liam Byrne: Will the Secretary of State tell the House whether he thinks the bedroom tax is proving a runaway success?

Iain Duncan Smith: It is proving a success, because what it is doing—[Laughter.] No. What it is doing is finally shining a light on the previous Government’s failure to sort out the mess in social housing

28 March 2014:

New research reveals that the Bedroom Tax has failed to achieve its main objective of forcing victims to move to smaller homes. Employment minister claims hated policy is “not a failure”

At least they’re managing to deliver on Universal Credit … errr …

Judge orders DWP to disclose Universal Credit documents

  • Documents set to reveal full extent of chaos in flagship scheme
  • Could provide ‘smoking gun’ showing IDS misled parliament
  • Tribunal slams “sharp contrast” between DWP spin and reality
  • Final release of documents could depend on outcome of DWP appeal

Iain Duncan Smith: liar, pants on fire

A judge has ordered the DWP to disclose potentially damning documents relating to the botched Universal Credit programme. The papers could provide a ‘smoking gun’ which proves conclusively that Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP misled parliament with their ridiculously optimistic assessments of progress on the programme.

The documents were requested by campaigners, including journalist Tony Collins (@tonyrcollins), under the Freedom of Information Act in March and April last year. The DWP has fought tooth and nail to keep them secret – even sending the director of the programme to court to argue against disclosure.

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 tribunal upheld a decision not to release the project’s Risk Register, a comprehensive assessment of potential risks ranked by likelihood and severity.

Scrapbook has blogged before (here and here) on Iain Duncan Smith’s attempts to disguise his failure. If the documents are published they will be inevitably set against the chronology of statements emanating from the department, a theme picked up by the tribunal:

We are struck by the sharp contrast [of critical independent reports] with the unfailing confidence and optimism of a series of press releases by the DWP or ministerial statements as to the progress of [Universal Credit] during the relevant period. The press release of 1st. November, 2011 quoting the Secretary of State as saying that UCP was “on track and on time for implementing from 2013” and a DWP spokesperson in 2012, refuting criticism from the Shadow Secretary of State -

“ Liam Byrne is quite simply wrong. Universal Credit is on track and on budget. To suggest anything else is incorrect.”

are simply examples of the summary of press releases

Scrapbook understands the department could yet appeal to a so-called ‘Upper Tribunal’.

Universal Credit now at 10 jobcentres — just 730 to go!

Iain Duncan Smith laughing

Crack open the champagne! Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship welfare policy has now been extended to a Jobcentre in Shotton, Wales, bringing the total number running the scheme to, errr, ten — or 1.3% of the 740 offices in the UK.

The latest figures show that the benefit has cost more than £200,000 per claimant to implementThe original deadline for the programme was October 2015 … but documentation accompanying last week budget stated:

“based on current plans, Universal Credit will be fully available in each part of Great Britain during 2016″

But this spin was later ‘clarified’, with the DWP explaining the benefit would be available in all Jobcentres — but not to all claimants.

SEE MORE UNIVERSAL CREDIT STORIES IN OUR ARCHIVE

Report: IDS and Shapps promoted “negative views” of disabled

Wheelchair

A committee of MPs has blasted cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith and Tory chairman Grant Shapps for contributing to “negative views” of disabled people. The pair both played central roles in abuses of statistics designed to attack welfare claimants.

In a report released today, the DWP select committee states:

“The Government is doing a great deal to promote a positive image of disabled people but this risks being undermined if the language used in DWP press releases and ministerial media comments about benefit statistics adopts a tone which feeds into negative views about people on benefits, including disabled people.”

“Government statistics should be used objectively to shed light on policy implementation, not to prop up established views and preconceptions.”

Grant Shapps was quoted in an official Tory press release implying that disabled people were coming off benefits in droves because they weren’t really ill:

“878,300 people claiming incapacity benefit—more than a third of the total—have chosen to drop their benefit claim entirely rather than face a medical assessment, new figures have revealed.”

But it later emerged that the release fudged two unrelated measures together and failed to make clear that many people recovered from their genuine illness before they were sent for a test — as opposed to pulling out because they were milking the system.

In evidence to the committee, DWP’s top spinner John Shield (who has since jumped ship to the BBC) lay the blame squarely with Shapps’ team at CCHQ:

“This is really simple. I knew you would ask, so I have checked with the press office. In no way, shape or form was anyone involved in the production of this. They were not, and I have been assured that this is purely a piece of party output [...] no one in the press office or in communications had any role in that; it is a party matter.”

But Shield was unable to deny DWP’s involvement with a second incident highlighted by the committee. Last April Iain Duncan Smith claimed of the government’s household benefits cap that “Already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the cap move into jobs”.

But the UK Statistics Authority found that the release was “unsupported by the official statistics published by the Department” and that the original statistics stated explicitly that the figures cited by IDS “are not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact [with DWP]”.

And then there’s the press release that had to be amended after describing benefits as “welfare hand-outs”.

Picture: Anna Strumillo

Iain Duncan Smith and DWP still in fantasy land on Bedroom Tax

Bedroom tax

Iain Duncan Smith has slammed the door on victims of the bedroom tax hoping to reclaim their charges for a so-called ‘spare bedroom’. A loophole in legislation underpinning the hated tax was closed yesterday after tenants claiming housing benefit continuously since before 1 January 1996 had been able to get their money back.

And with the drafting error just one of several monumental cock-ups plaguing the department, the DWP is still insisting that just 5,000 people were affected — in the face of counter-claims by housing experts.

This is odd to say the least with the news that 300 tenants have claimed back £214,000 in south Essex alone.

Don’t trust anything on DWP until it’s been officially denied.

Iain Duncan Smith’s local councils spend £70,000 on food banks

  • DWP boss’ local councils forced to fund food banks
  • But cabinet minister refused to meet charity bosses
  • Even Tory think tank says benefits regime to blame

Iain Duncan Smith

Two councils covering Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency have been forced to spend £70,000 to support food banks. The news emerges three months after the cabinet minister snubbed repeated requests for a face-to-face meeting by accusing the UK’s largest food bank charity of “scaremongering”.

BBC Panorama is set to report that a third of councils are funding food banks, with the burden on local authorities running to £3 million per year. They include the two of the three covering Duncan Smith’s Chingford and Woodford Green constituency.

Back in December it was revealed that Duncan Smith had yet again refused to meet with the Christian-run Trussell Trust food bank, complaining that charity bosses have “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform”:

“I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way. I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I’m concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear.”

But the Duncan Smith’s defence is now crumbling – with a Tory think tank breaking ranks to underscore the link between the harsh new sanctions regime and food bank useA report from Policy Exchange — founded by Michael Gove and Francis Maude and described as “David Cameron’s favourite think tank” — released today states:

“With some estimates suggesting that 43% of those referred to food banks are there due to benefit stoppage or being refused a crisis loan, it is clear that there is not currently an adequate safety net for those who are wrongly sanctioned”

Whether it’s Universal Credit, benefits sanctions or food banks, Iain Duncan Smith inhabits his own fantasy world.

Bedroom Tax fightback: judge rules dining room is NOT ‘spare’ bedroom

Iain Duncan Smith bedroom tax

A victim of the Bedroom Tax has struck a legal blow against the hated charge after officials wrongly claimed that his dining room was a ‘spare bedroom’. The news comes after countless vulnerable tenants have seen living and storage areas bizarrely reclassified.

As Scrapbook reported back in November, families have been left facing hardship after downstairs living areas have been suddenly designated as bedrooms. And in perhaps the most shocking case of its kind, even rooms reserved for medical purposes such kidney dialysis have been reclassified under Iain Duncan Smith’s policy.

But a judge in the case of an unnamed victim in Rochdale told a Bedroom Tax tribunal:

“On the evidence I am persuaded he has always used the second room as a dining room and regards the property as one-bedroomed.”

With the case brought with the aid of Citizens Advice Bureau, the ruling could open the floodgates to a mass rebellion against unfair reclassifications.

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