Iain Duncan Smith faces a select committee grilling on Universal Credit from 4:30pm on the day it is revealed that his flagship welfare policy has fallen even further behind schedule. With the wheels coming off the wagon, this Telegraph leader column summarises the defence briefed by IDS’ team: that he was “kept in the dark” about what was going on:
Management was “alarmingly weak”; a “fortress” mentality developed, alongside a “good news” culture in which ministers were kept in the dark about mistakes. Things became so chaotic that secretaries were signing off million-pound contracts.
Very good. Except — as this blog pointed out last week — Iain Duncan Smith had personally brought in a director of the think tank he founded to work on the project. When writing or speaking at conferences, Stephen Brien is variously described as “Special Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith on Universal Credit” and “the architect of the Universal Credit policy”.
In addition to his point man ‘on the ground’ with the Universal Credit team, IDS has been chairing the ministerial oversight groups responsible for the policy since May 2011. These meetings take place ten times per year.
Scrapbook looks forward to the following quotes being put to the ‘quiet man’ this afternoon:
5 March 2013 – “What we are talking about will have no practical effect on the implementation of universal credit, which, by the way, is proceeding exactly in accordance with plans.”
10 July 2013 – “The pathfinder exercise has shown that the IT system works.”
18 November 2013 – ”because of the actions I took over a year ago to ensure that universal credit will roll out and deliver exactly as we said it would”