Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Nick Cohen lays into “Stubborn” and “Pig-headed” Iain Duncan Smith.

with 9 comments

As the brave protesters of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) get unceremoniously booted out of Westminster Abbey (Shame Of The Church of England: Dean of Westminster Allows Hundreds of Police To Attempt Stamp Out Of Disabled People’s Peaceful Protest ) Nick Cohen’s column in the Observer today provides food for thought.

Why stubborn Iain Duncan Smith is no statesman

The minister’s reluctance to abandon his disastrous Work Programme is further proof of his pig-headedness.
It’s no secret that the second line is dear to our hearts.

At a time of miserable conditions for the poor, sick and disabled people, the administration of the welfare state is a disaster. The grand projects the Department for Work and Pensions has launched since the general election have been bureaucratic fantasies and practical catastrophes. Ministers have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds of public money – Tory ministers, mark you, who pose as the defenders of hard-working taxpayers. For all that, Iain Duncan Smith tramps on without a thought of changing his ways: a character study in destructive pig-headedness.

Nick, if we may call him by his first name (and why not? Work Programme ‘Job Coaches’ do it all the time, without asking), continues,

Duncan Smith has targeted the Trussell Trust, an exemplary Anglican charity, which has mobilised the conscience of the nation and fed the hungry. He and his sly ministers suggested that visitors to food banks were freeloaders, rather than victims of poverty and the incompetence of Duncan Smith’s department. As they did it, they were sitting on a government report, which showed the Trussell Trust was right. Low incomes and benefit delays were compelling hundreds of thousands of hungry people to beg for food as a “last resort”, it said.

This is worth recalling,

Earlier this year, with barely concealed incredulity, Nicholas Wikeley, a judge at the Administrative Appeals Chamber, dismissed an attempt by Duncan Smith to keep secret a government report on the risk to public funds and public provision for the needy his vainglorious plans for universal credit could bring. He could see “no support” for Duncan Smith’s argument that the electorate should know nothing about them.

Outsiders could see every reason why Duncan Smith would want to censor, however. Only a few thousand people are on a new credit that is meant to cover millions. Its computer systems have failed. About £140m has been thrown away and Margaret Hodge of the public accounts committee expects that many millions more will vanish. The DWP, she said, embarked on a £2.4bn project “with little idea how it was going to work”.

It is not only the universal credit. If you think I am being too harsh, the Department for Work and Pensions annual report, published last week, said that Duncan Smith’s Work Programme was “only helping one in 20 recipients of disability benefits find a job”. The public accounts committee said Duncan’s Smith personal independence payments scheme had been “rushed” through and the consequences for terminally ill and disabled people had been “shocking”. Too often you see the sick and the ill-educated being told to log on to computers they don’t have, to fill in forms they can’t understand for IT systems that don’t work.

He summarises the problems at the root of the new system,

….you had to merge incompatible IT systems and find a way of updating the information on millions of people so that Whitehall knew almost instantaneously how much they were earning, what taxes they should pay and what benefits they should receive. Reforming a complex system would take years. If Duncan Smith rushed it he would be engaging in the vast and self-defeating social engineering the right accused the utopian left of forcing on the human race.

Nick calls Iain a “neurotic authoritarian who wants to be powerful and expects to be obeyed, while living with the fear that everyone will dismiss him as a clown if he shows the smallest weakness.”

Why does he continue?

 All that was needed was the political will. And he, Iain Duncan Smith, the man of destiny, had the will to make it work. “We looked at him as if he was mad,” one of the participants told me.

Mad, bad and very, very bad.


9 Responses

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  1. Concern about keeping things private seems to extend to IDS (from link above):

    IDS loses legal appeal to keep universal credit problems secret.

    This is significant:

    “So there you have it. God knows how much taxpayer money is dedicated to making these frivolous legal appeals – all in a bid to save the work and pension’s secretary’s blushes.

    When we ask the Home Office, they refuse to answer. I’ll fire off a Freedom of Information request to the DWP on their legal costs later today, but I doubt the answer will be any different. The government is very good at not recording data it wishes to remain secret.

    When there are disability benefits which need cutting, every pound counts. When it’s the secretary of state who needs saving, the government’s wallet bursts at the seams.”


    The comments on the Cohen article are well worth looking at!


    Andrew Coates

    June 29, 2014 at 11:21 am

  2. He’s attempting to prevent scrutiny of what he has done.media attacks’ by the conservatives are nothing new when it starts to unravel and subject to exposure.

    Exclusive: Food bank charity ‘was threatened with closure by Iain Duncan Smith’s aide’


    The disgraceful tactics’ used against the disabled are his work. the the home secretary has no hesitation in sending in whatever force to quell any protest.


    June 30, 2014 at 4:23 am

  3. Here is another pig-headed comment:

    ““We’ve never evicted anybody because when people haven’t been able to afford to pay the rent they’ve moved out.”

    The outrageous remark was made recently by Britain’s richest Tory MP, surprise, surprise!!

    Several years ago it was said that the real aim of the Tories is to destroy social housing and create a multi-tiered housing market dominated by private sector interests, which will create new transient populations in cities shifting from one area to another.

    In other words, social cleansing.

    Report here:



    June 30, 2014 at 9:07 am

    • I cant say im surprized to read that post Tobanem as I regard London these days as the riches playpen. I suspect had this been elsewhere like say the north east, it wouldn’t be happening as perish the thought these people would end up in London.

      During the housing benefit reform government went out of its way to excommunicate people in poverty from London yet people elsewhere throughout the UK were expected to look local for fear of people asking for loans to relocate.

      We have all seen a sci fy depicting life where the masses live in god awful unsavoury conditions outside the gates of a city only populated by the rich,well it appears London is turning into just such a place.

      Question is now as London isn’t home to all, can it still be said to be the capital of this once great country?

      Theirs a reason for this people, its called a debt that cannot be repaid, its called reality hid beyond inflation, its called sorting out ours before the bow breaks and break she will.


      June 30, 2014 at 9:50 am

      • Annos. Your last sentence, I remember that well. It was said at the time ”Private rented accommodation makes people more responsible for themselves and greater flexibility of where they live and work”. I cannot remember who said it, I think it may have been said at the Tory Party conference in the late 1980’s.mrnortholt@hushmail.com

        Mr Northolt

        July 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

  4. Advice Required Please.
    Is it true that the Jobcentre week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday.
    If this is the case and you are told too apply for 10 jobs a week, you do this all on Monday then nothing for the rest of the week, you are deemed not too have done enough and risk a sanction.
    Thanks For Any Advice

    Mr Northolt

    June 30, 2014 at 10:25 am

    • Nice choice of email provider Mr Northolt.

      To answer your question yep, you would be deemed as such and risk a possible sanction but that all depends on if your under JSA agreement or compliancy agreement and what you said during a meeting with an advisor.

      Its not impossible that you only found jobs on one day in particular and despite continuing to search failed on all the other days. If however you tell an advisor I do it all on Monday then what do you expect from them.

      Look, how you present your evidence is your the claimants choice but despite this doesn’t mean your advisor cant ask further questions which dependant on how you answer them could lead the claimant to get sanctioned. This said ONLY searching one day week isn’t going to help that individual much and despite what your agreement says, that only implies a minimum. If your under the new compliancy agreement however your expected to produce evidence of a search (doesn’t imply you would have found any to apply to) for every day of the week totalling a 35 hour search.

      Personally aside myself looking for work aggregate jobsites so the very notion one can only find 10 jobs in a week to apply to is a falsehood bar certain areas of the UK so would lead me to suspect that the individual lacked the skill to perform a proper and time efficient job hunt if we don’t include that one doesn’t try nor care.

      The common mistake made by claimants is in ignoring the 90 min rule. As much as I understand the logic put forward as regards working 37 hours only to see it disappear on travel costs meaning you still have to claim which inturn means being on exactly what you were before said job, sadly DWP doesn’t see it the same.

      This said however does present DWP with problems like for instance most employers only hire locally, even if they do select you they don’t have or refuse to assist with relocation costs and that’s if the individual wants to move as it is their right to decide. A lot of job areas within this 90 min travel span cant be got to in 1 and half hours (DWP measure as the crow flys and its not the claimants responsibility to check on travel arrangements prior to appointment). Then theirs the how far will your last welfare check stretch which I can tell you now WONT so either the person will fail to maintain travel to work or end up malnutrition what with not being able to afford to eat.

      You may never get a job that’s 90 min away but at least your satisfying the DWP requirement and staving off that possible sanction.

      Also worthy of mentioning is qualifications that aren’t warranted like working in a warehouse for instance. It doesn’t take an NVQ to lift a box from point A, swipe it with a reader and drop it off at point B so don’t discount yourself if you think you have the necessary skills to perform such a job. Lastly worthy of mentioning is various card schemes noticeably the CSCS one as technically under LAW ITS NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT dew to the fact your competency could be measured in other ways BUT dew to government giving employers the legal right to ask for such and hire only on that basis much like CRBs has stifled that very fact. This means any person can apply for CSCS related work even though their be refused the position and DWP cant do squat diddly about it what with their obligation under the civil service code they must agree to prior to appointment as an advisor that stipulates they MUST OBEY AND ENFORCE TO LAW.

      Well I hope that helps Mr Northolt?


      June 30, 2014 at 11:47 am

      • Yes that does help Gaia. I live in Suffolk and with the buses here, it can sometimes take 90 mins in getting across town with a change of bus involved.Thank youMr Northolt

        Mr Northolt

        June 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm

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