Iain Duncan Smith: liar, pants on fire

Scrapbook has blogged before on Ian Duncan Smith’s blatant lies to parliament regarding  what he knew (and when) in respect of the failure of his flagship policy. Rather than ‘fess up to what a disaster Universal Credit had become, IDS decided to blame the whole fiasco on senior civil servantsthrowing his permanent secretary Robert Devereux under a bus by claiming he had been kept in the dark.

The mandarin class are now fighting a full-on rearguard action, with cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood reportedly complaining to the prime minister that IDS and Francis Maude had led briefing against Devereux. But one fact — little reported in the context of Universal Credit’s difficulties — completely skewers IDS’ defence of ignorance: that he had a personally-appointed “point man” working on the project for two years.

Management consultant Stephen Brien was the purported architect of the Universal Credit policy while a director at Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice from 2008 until he joined DWP in 2011, when Conservative Home reported:

“[IDS] recently brought Stephen Brien, the architect of the Universal Credit policy, into the Department of Work and Pensions, to help him deliver.”

While Brien was never on the official special adviser list, he was billed at a Demos conference in January this year as follows:

“Stephen Brien, Special Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith MP on Universal Credit”

And again at a conference on payment systems as:

“Universal Credit Architect, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)”

Despite having brought a fellow traveller onto the payroll to oversee the project on his behalf, Duncan Smith still wants us to believe that there was a “chasm between what officials were telling him and what was really happening”.

Intriguingly, Brien’s Linkedin now lists the DWP as a previous employer:

Stephen Brien

So has IDS’ man been quietly jettisoned while he tried to distract us with Devereux? Either way, his story is now shot full of holes.

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