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Posts Tagged ‘Ian Duncan Smith

Labour Pledge to Abolish Universal Credit.

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Image result for labour universal credit

Labour Plans to Abolish Universal Credit. 

Universal credit: Labour pledges to scrap welfare scheme

BBC.

Mr Corbyn will promise that a Labour government would introduce “an emergency package of reforms” including:

  • scrapping the two-child limit, whereby families only receive welfare support for the first two children of a family
  • suspending sanctions whereby a claimant’s support can be reduced if they miss appointments

His party also wants to drop the benefit cap which limits the amount of benefit a person can receive.

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said while the system could not be “completely replaced overnight”, the announcement was “more than an aspiration” and “the next Labour government will replace universal credit”.

Mr Corbyn will make his announcement on Saturday at a rally in Chingford and Woodford Green – the Greater London parliamentary seat of Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, who originally implemented the universal credit scheme when he was work and pensions secretary.

The Labour leader is expected to criticise the welfare project for being “over-budget” and “inhumane”.

“Social security is supposed to give people dignity and respect, not punish and police them, make them wait five weeks for the first payment or fill out a four-page form to prove their child was born as a result of rape,” he will say.

The BBC notes some further points and the initial reactions:

Labour also says it would drop the system’s “digital-only” requirement, arguing that it excludes those who do not have access to the internet.

The Department for Work and Pensions says claimants can get paid urgently if required.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “This is totally irresponsible from Jeremy Corbyn, who now admits he would happily scrap financial support for vulnerable people with no plan as to what Labour would replace it with.”

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said it would welcome significant reform “but any changes need to avoid further upheaval for those who depend on it”.

The charity’s director for policy and partnerships, Helen Barnard, said Labour’s proposals appeared to “get rid of some of the worst bits of universal credit which we know are pulling some people into really difficult poverty and debt”, citing sanctions and the five-week wait for the first payment.

However, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there were also aspects of the system, including the way it avoids people moving to a different benefit when they begin work, which should be preserved.

Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson said while Labour was proposing a series of changes to universal credit, the announcement did not appear to be calling for an end to the idea of merging six benefits into one payment, which he said had simplified the system.

Food bank charity the Trussell Trust welcomed the end of the five-week wait proposed by Labour – but warned that the party’s plans could create further problems.

It said that “scrapping universal credit may only result in further upheaval”.

The Guardian notes some of the details,

Although Labour says it will “scrap” universal credit it seems it will not drop all aspects of the payment, which merges six benefits into one. It will remain digital in nature, although Labour says it will end the current “digital only” approach and will hire 5,000 advisers to support claimants unable to access the internet or manage their claims online.

It will also allow claimants to be paid fortnightly rather than monthly as now and allow households to split payments between two adults. The current single household payment has been criticised as enabling domestic abusers to control family finances.

Benefit sanctions, the two-child limit on child benefit and the benefit cap – seen as unfair, ineffective and key drivers of child poverty – will be scrapped. The party already has plans to scrap the bedroom tax.

Commenting on the proposals, Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Labour has set out some significant reforms, but they sensibly do not amount to actually scrapping universal credit. Now isn’t the time for another huge overhaul of our social security system.

“Instead, Labour have focused on reforming universal credit, and scrapping entirely separate benefit cuts that are set to drive up child poverty.”

Our contributors are always noting difficulties, and scepticism about the statement.

But bear this in mind (from the father of Universal Credit):

And this (Retweeted by Thérèse Coffey):

Here is how the Brexit lot greet the news:

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

September 28, 2019 at 9:20 am

Ian Duncan Smith – Yes, Ian Duncan Smith – Calls for Reversing Universal Credit Cuts.

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Image result for ian duncan smith cartoon we're getting people off benefits

IDS: A Sinner Repents.

There is no doubt rejoicing in heaven at Ian Duncan Smith’s call.

But for those with a less than angelic disposition will remember this before reading today’s reports:

I, Daniel Blake: Iain Duncan Smith slams Ken Loach’s benefits sanctions film.

Mr Duncan Smith presided over £15bn of cuts to the benefits system in the five years after 2010.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith said: “I did think that whilst on the one level this was a human story full of pathos and difficulty, and I’m not saying  for one moment there aren’t serious difficulties and issues when you’re under pressure, when things like this happen … the film has taken the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody and lumped it all together and then said this is life absolutely as it is lived by people, and I don’t believe that.”

There were £15bn of cuts to the welfare budget over the five years between 2010 and 2015, during which time Mr Duncan Smith was Work and Pensions Secretary. He eventually quit over further cuts to the Universal Credit system he helped design.

Reverse universal credit cuts, Iain Duncan Smith tells chancellor

Guardian.

The former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has warned the chancellor that he risks undermining the whole purpose of welfare reform if he fails to reverse cuts to universal credit (UC) in his spring statement.

Philip Hammond is under mounting pressure from across the party to use better than expected tax revenues to reverse cuts made after the 2015 election. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that 340,000 people could be taken out of poverty by reversing the cuts to work allowances.

I think he’s under a lot of pressure. There are a lot of colleagues around who would like to see the money restored to UC as a step in the right direction,” said Duncan Smith. “Hammond has got more money to spend. But will he? He says no … The answer to that is, we’ll see.”

UC, which rolls six major working-age benefits – including job seeker’s allowance, tax credit and housing benefit – into one monthly payment, has been beset with problems. It is years behind schedule and there have been four different secretaries of state since Duncan Smith resigned in 2016, protesting about cuts to disability benefits – saying they were a “compromise too far” that made the cuts look political rather than economic.

These four Universal Credit changes spell bad news for families

Birmingham Live.

The four key benefit cuts coming in to force on April 9 are:

– Year three of the four-year cash freeze in working age benefits, affecting almost 11 million families.

– The 3% real terms cut in working age benefits this year is set to be by far the biggest of the four-year benefit freeze.

– A two child limit for benefit claims , costing up to £2,780 for a family having a third child. This will affect 150,000 families.

– Withdrawal of the family element of support for new tax credit and universal credit claims from families with children , costing up to £545 and affecting 400,000 families.

The rollout of Universal Credit , saving £200m this year due to lower entitlements than the existing benefit system for long term sick and working families in particular.

Before we feel warm and shed a little tear of sympathy for Ian Duncan Smith…

Not fit for work: All the times Iain Duncan Smith has got it badly wrong.

This week two heavily critical reports were published on Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit programme, joining a long list of damning critiques of his time as work and pension secretary. As a result, now seems as good a time as any to take a closer at his record and all the times he has got it badly wrong.

Claim: In 2012 IDS boasted that the roll out of Universal Credit would improve the lives of millions of claimants by “incentivising work and making work pay.”

Reality: A report published yesterday by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, says that although the policy would encourage some people into work this was’t the case for everyone. In fact some groups, like single parents, will have even less of an incentive to work under Universal Credit than under the old system. Crucially it also suggested the changes would leave working families worse off on average, with their research suggesting 2.1 million families will face an average loss of £1,600 a year.

Claim: The Bedroom Tax would help tackle the housing shortage

One of Duncan Smith’s key defences of the Bedroom Tax was that it would help free up social housing for those who most need it. The idea being that rather than take a cut in housing benefit for having a spare room, people would move out of their properties and into smaller accommodation, thereby freeing it up for larger families.

Reality: A shortage of smaller properties meant that the overwhelming majority of people affected by the bedroom tax stayed put. A recent government study into the impact of the changes found that 76% of those affected have been forced to cut back on food, with thousands more claimants being driven into taking on payday loans. Only a small fraction of those affected moved into alternative accommodation.

Claim: Face-to-face assessments of disability benefit claimants would mean payments would only go to those who most need them

Reality: Many people with serious disabilities and even life-threatening conditions have been judged as fit-for-work under the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) scheme. In 2013 Linda Wootton died in hospital just nine days after the government stopped her benefits and ordered her to go back to work. Amid growing criticism of the assessments, in March 2014, it was confirmed that ATOS, the private company contracted to carry out the assessments, were to end their contract with the government a year early.

Claim: Personal Independence Payments would “better reflect today’s understanding of disability” than the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Reality: The switchover from DLA to PIP was a disaster with thousands of people waiting months for their applications to be assessed. This was made even worse by the introduction of a new step in the appeals process. The Mandatory Reconsideration stage resulted in many of those who had already waited long periods for a decision to be made being left waiting even longer to have the opportunity to challenge .

And so it goes….

Role in Universal Credit as  Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

He also announced a far more radical series of reforms intended to simplify the benefits and tax credits scheme into a single payment to be known as Universal Credit. A major aim of welfare reform was to ensure that low earners would always be better off in employment. “After years of piecemeal reform the current welfare system is complex and unfair,” said Duncan Smith, citing examples of people under the existing system that would see very little incremental income from increasing their working hours due to withdrawal of other benefits.[30] Outlining the scheme in more detail in November 2010, Duncan Smith promised “targeted work activity for those who need to get used to the habits of work” and sanctions, including the possible removal of benefits for up to three years for those who refused to work. He said welfare reform would benefit all those who “play by the rules” and ensure “work always pays more” by easing the rate at which benefits are withdrawn as income rises.[31]

The next phase of welfare reform announced by Duncan Smith in late 2011 required benefits claimants with part-time incomes below a certain threshold to search for additional work or risk losing access to their benefits. “We are already requiring people on out of work benefits to do more to prepare for and look for work,” he said. “Now we are looking to change the rules for those who are in-work and claiming benefits, so that once they have overcome their barriers and got into work, in time they can reduce their dependency or come off benefits altogether.”[32] He said that benefits were not a route out of child poverty but hundreds of thousands of children could be lifted out of child poverty if one of their parents were to work at least a 35-hour week at the national minimum wage.[33]

He also argued that a proposed £26,000-a-year benefits cap, would not lead to a rise in homelessness or child poverty “The reality is that with £26,000 a year, it’s very difficult to believe that families will be plunged into poverty – children or adults,” he told BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme. “Capping at average earnings of £35,000 before tax and £26,000 after, actually means that we are going to work with families make sure that they will find a way out.”[34] but added there would need to be “discretionary measures”.[34] Duncan Smith led the governments legislation in the House of Commons in January 2013 to cap most benefit increases at 1%, a real terms cut.[35]

On 1 April 2013, Duncan Smith said he could live on £53 per week as Work and Pensions Secretary, after a benefits claimant told the BBC he had £53 per week after housing costs.[36]

In September 2013, Duncan Smith’s department cancelled a week of “celebrations” to mark the impact of enhanced benefit sanctions. Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) commented: “It is distasteful in the extreme and grossly offensive that the DWP would even consider talking about celebrating cutting people’s benefits.”[37] In the same month, Duncan Smith’s department was subject to an “excoriating” National Audit Office report. The department he runs was accused of having “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance; a fortress mentality, a “good news” reporting culture, a lack of transparency, inadequate financial control, and ineffective oversight” as well as wasting 34 million pounds on inadequate computer systems.[38]

The Department for Work and Pensions had said that 1 million people would be placed on the new Universal Credit benefits system by April 2014, yet by October 2014 only 15,000 were assigned to UC. Duncan Smith said that a final delivery date would not be set for this, declaring “Arbitrary dates and deadlines are the enemy of secure delivery.”[39] In 2014, it was revealed that his department was employing debt collectors to retrieve overpaid benefits, the overpayment purely down to calculation mistakes by HMRC.[

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2018 at 11:30 am

Ian Duncan Smith Praises Benefit Street, Says Fall in Unemployment Shows His Reforms Work.

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Britain’s jobless rate fell sharply to 7.1% in the three months to November from 7.4%. It was a far bigger drop than economists were expecting, with most forecasting a modest fall to 7.3%.

Johnny Void comments,

No matter how much DWP Ministers try to spin the figures there is still a desperate shortage of jobs.

It is simply not known how much of this month’s fall in unemployment is down to zero hours contracts, or how many of the 4.36 million people now working self-employed are dependent on Working Tax Credits and not making any real money.

Although this month shows a welcome drop in the use of workfare, this also distorts the true picture of the labour market. Unpaid workers on Jobcentre schemes are conveniently disappeared from the official tally of the unemployed. Benefit sanctions, which have risen sharply, can also lead people to abandon benefit claims and drop out of the figures – often to disappear into the black market or become dependent on the charity of friends, families and foodbanks. No-one is counting how many people are now living like this.

Whatever the true rate of unemployment one thing is certain. There are currently 2.32 million officially unemployed people and just 569,000 vacancies. Even if all those vacancies are filled by someone unemployed tomorrow, there will still be approaching two million unemployed people.

Meawnwhile Ian Duncan Smith says this,

Middle-class Britain has been shocked by the hidden reality of welfare ghettos revealed by TV programmes such as Benefits Street, Iain Duncan Smith is expected to say as he welcomes a Bank of England report claiming that his welfare-to-work reforms are bearing fruit.

In a speech on Thursday marking the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Centre for Social Justice thinktank, the work and pensions secretary is due to say: “With income inequality under Labour the worst for a generation, whilst the middle-class majority were aware of the problems in poor communities, they remained largely unaware of the true nature of life on some of our estates.

“We let these problems be ghettoised as though they were a different country. Even now, for the most part they remain out of sight – meaning people are shocked when they are confronted with a TV programme such as Benefits Street.”

In fact the Liberal-Conservative Coalition has helped create these “ghettos” and its ‘reforms’ will create massive problems in sustaining a drop in unemployment.

  • They are based on the “nudge” theory. That is that people must be pushed into looking for work. This means making their lives on benefits so unpleasant that they will do anything to get off them
  • In this way the Government has created a whole group people trapped in debt, fearful, and unhappy.
  • They have enriched the “unemployment business”. These have made helping finding a job a profession. The experience of these “courses” (from the Work programme’s providers onwards) marks people. The government has reduced access to courses giving genuine qualifications and emphasises beauty competitions for employers rather than skills.
  • By suspensions and low benefits they have  fueled huge increase in the numbers reliant on charity – food banks.
  • The Bedroom Tax has made people insecure in their own homes and has added to the numbers of those barely able to afford the minimum requirement of normal life.

Ian Duncan Smith continues,

“The reality is that our welfare system has become distorted, no longer the safety net it was intended to be. Too often it is an entrapment – as it has been for a million people left on incapacity benefits for a decade or more, or the more than 4 million abandoned on out-of-work benefits even before the recession.”

This is a world, ” where gangs were prevalent, debt and drugs the norm … families broken down … those living there had one thing in common: they were for the most part dependent on the state for their daily needs.

The reality is that Ian Duncan Smith has cut away the safety net, created a system of dependency on the arbitrary provision of Charity, broken up families, encouraged criminality, and helped form a whole generation cut off from mainstream society.

He should be ashamed to even appear in public, let alone lecture us on the ‘success’ of his destructive activities.

Meanwhile, it’s like fucking Narnia in the DWP!

Food Banks Debate Shambles.

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Food Banks annoy me, and lots of people, intensely.

So it was with interest that we followed the debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

We cannot do better than cite the Daily Mirror,

It was the day the Nasty Party showed its true-blue colours – by sneering at the plight of hungry families forced to rely on food banks.

Tory MPs laughed and jeered as they were told how some hard-up shoppers were so desperate they fought to snap up discounted items in supermarkets.

Astonishingly, all the Government ministers from the responsible departments – including Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – sneaked out after just an hour of the crucial Commons debate.

By then a cowardly IDS had already ducked questions, putting forward his deputy instead.

In one of the most shameful episodes ever witnessed in Parliament, Tory backbenchers sniggered and hooted as Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart told of shocking scenes at her local Tesco in Slough, Berks, as people battled over cut-price fruit and veg.

She said the store had now been forced to draft in extra security.

Almost drowned out by mocking Tory MPs, she asked: “Isn’t that a shocking sign in the 21st century?”

Senior Labour politicians later described the Tories’ callous reaction as “shameful” and “a total disgrace”.

Labour MP Jamie Reed said: “I regret to say the laughter from the Government benches says more about this issue than words ever could.”

His colleague Barry Gardiner said it was “extraordinary” to see Mr Duncan Smith smirking as it was pointed out that half a million people are now using food banks.

And The Trussell Trust, the nation’s largest provider of food banks, said it was “disappointed” by the attitude of those who jeered.

Labour had called the debate after nearly 150,000 people signed a petition backed by the Mirror, the Unite union and The Trussell Trust calling for an inquiry into the growing dependence on food aid.

But Mr Duncan Smith refused to answer for the Government, leaving it to his deputy, Esther McVey.

And in an ill-judged speech, she sparked fury by claiming it was a good thing that more people were turning to food banks.

Incredibly she insisted: “It is positive that people are reaching out to support other people.”

She went on: “In the UK it is right that more people are going to food banks because as times are tough, we are all having to pay back this
£1.5trillion debt personally. We are all trying to live within our means, change gear and make sure that we pay back all our debt.” Labour veteran Sir Gerald Kaufman described her speech as the “nastiest” he had heard in his 43 years as an MP.

Labour’s Lilian Greenwood added: “They are the nasty party through and through. She doesn’t get it and won’t take responsibility.”

Shortly after Ms Mcvey’s performance, Mr Duncan Smith scurried from the chamber, followed by an number of other senior Tories.

Speaker John Bercow said he had no power to stop them, but said the view that it was a disgrace there was no minister there “may be widely shared”. Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle said the increasing need for food banks was a damning indictment of Government policy.

She added: “Since April this year more than 500,000 people have relied on assistance from the 400 food banks run by The Trussell Trust charity, double the number of food banks compared to this time last year.” She added: “It’s a scandal which is getting worse and the Government now has the humiliation of the Red Cross helping to collect and distribute food aid in Britain for the first time since the Second World War.”

Former Labour Cabinet minister Paul Murphy told the Commons he had never seen such poverty in his 40 years as a Welsh politician, apart from during the 1984 Miners’ Strike.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves told the House: “It’s a tale of two nations – tax cuts for the rich, food banks for the poor.”

This is also relevant,

In an ill-judged speech, Ms McVey sparked fury after claiming it was “positive” more people were turning to food banks.

She refused to answer Labour’s claims that the Government’s austerity measures, “incompetent” welfare reforms, rising food prices and the bedroom tax had driven more people into poverty.

She said: “It is positive that people are reaching out to support other people – from church groups to community groups, to local supermarkets and other groups.

“In the UK it is right that more people are going to food banks because as times are tough, we are all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally which spiralled under Labour, we are all trying to live within our means, change the gear and make sure that we pay back all our debt which happened under them.”

Video here.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

Mark Hoban Loses DWP Job: When Will Ian Duncan Smith Go?

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Esther McVey, Tory MP, will take over from Mark Hoban as employment minister at the Department for Work and Pensions. Hoban returns to the backbenches.

Hoban is best known to the unemployed for saying this (Telegraph March 2013)

When you’ve been out of work for months it can be easy to lose motivation and be sucked into a long spell without a job. Gaining some extra experience and keeping – or discovering – the habit of work is vital.

That’s why we run several schemes where unemployed people are required to carry out a period of work on a project which benefits the community and gives a real boost to their job prospects. If they refuse that help without good reason, then they will lose their benefits for a period.

Followed by this,

Far from being slavery or punishment, these schemes are designed with the sole motive of helping people get back into work – giving them the vital workplace skills and experience which may be holding them back from getting a job. Indeed, as the Court of Appeal recently concluded in a judicial review, we are completely within our rights to expect people to attend these schemes.

There’s more Hoban Hate out there,. This is one case, “…we also know there are some out there who don’t want to roll up their sleeves, and who think they can play the system. Well I’ve got news for them – they can’t. That is why, from tomorrow, there will be tougher penalties for people on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) who don’t play by the rules.”

Unfortunately Esther McVery is of the same stamp.

This is what she’s said this year, in her capacity as Minister for cracking from on disabled people.

The benefit changes this government has introduced this month will make work pay while protecting the most vulnerable
This month we are seeing a number of key changes to the welfare state that are in line with the government’s promise to help hard-working people….

Anybody who can be bothered to read the rest of her ill-informed right-wing rant can see it here.

Perhaps these Ministers, like their immediate Boss of Bosses, Ian Duncan Smith, will end up like this right-winger,

SILVIO Berlusconi (77), one of Italy’s richest men, may soon be scrubbing lavatories, working with drug addicts or helping the homeless, after opting to serve his sentence for tax fraud doing community service.

We can but hope.

 

 

Universal Credit, “Slight Delay” as Report Dams “Weak Management, Ineffective Control and Poor Governance.”

with 42 comments

On the BBC this morning this was a major story.

“Universal credit: Flagship welfare reform ‘poor value’ says watchdog.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith, dismissed this report.

He bravely admitted that he had “taken the right decision” and put the programme on track for its “Autumn Roll-out”.

Any problems had been fixed.

There would, however, be a “slight delay” in introducing Universal Credit nationwide.

The National Audit Office says,

The National Audit Office has concluded that the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money in its early implementation of Universal Credit. The Department is not yet able to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop and has been forced to delay the national roll-out of the programme to claimants.

Today’s report concludes that the Department was overly ambitious in both the timetable and scope of the programme. The Department took risks to try to meet the short timescale and used a new project management approach which it had never before used on a programme of this size and complexity. It was unable to explain how it originally decided on its ambitious plans or evaluated their feasibility.

Given the tight timescale, unfamiliar project management approach and lack of a detailed plan, it was critical that the Department should have good progress information and effective controls. In practice the Department did not have any adequate measures of progress.

The spending watchdog found that the Department took some action at the end of 2012 to resolve problems, but was unable to address the underlying issues effectively. The source of many problems has been the absence of a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work. In addition, poor control and decision-making undermined confidence in the programme and contributed to a lack of progress. The Department has particularly lacked IT expertise and senior leadership, with frequent changes in senior management.

Key points from the official summary of the Report to begin with,

12. The Department started a limited pilot scheme (a ‘pathfinder’) in April 2013.
By the end of July, the Department had expanded the pathfinder to four sites and had
taken around 1,000 new claims. The scope of the pathfinder is narrower than originally
planned, covers only the simplest new claims and includes limited IT functionality. Some
processes require intervention by staff, limiting the scalability of the pathfinder model
without further IT investment. The Department believes that the pathfinder is testing
claimant behaviour. Early indications suggest that over 90 per cent of new claims are
started on-line (paragraphs 2.7 to 2.9 and 2.16)

13 The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit nationally. The
Department will not introduce Universal Credit for all new out-of-work claims nationally
from October 2013 as planned. Instead it will add a further six pathfinder sites from
October 2013. It will also apply the claimant commitment to all Jobseeker’s Allowance
claimants by April 2014 but this will not depend on introducing Universal Credit
payments. The Department is now reconsidering the timing of full roll-out. To keep to
the 2017 completion date, the Department would have to migrate a large volume of
claimants within a short time frame (paragraphs 2.11 to 2.14).

14 The Department does not yet know to what extent its new IT systems will
support national roll-out. Universal Credit pathfinder systems have limited function
and do not allow claimants to change details of their circumstances online as originally
intended. The Department does not yet have an agreed plan for national roll-out and
has been unclear about how far it will build on pathfinder systems or replace them.
In May 2013, the Department identified the need to write off £34 million (17 per cent) of
its new IT assets. The Department will undertake a further impairment review when it
has confirmed its plans for the future of the programme. The current senior responsible
owner took over in May 2013 and is revising plans (paragraphs 2.16 to 2.20).

15 The Department will have to scale back its original delivery ambition and is
reassessing what it must do to roll-out Universal Credit to claimants. The current
programme team is developing new plans for Universal Credit. Our experience of major
programmes supported by IT suggests that the Department will need to revise the
programme’s timing and scope, particularly around online transactions and automation.
It is unlikely that Universal Credit will be as simple or cheap to administer as originally
intended. Delays to roll-out.

23 At this early stage of the Universal Credit programme the Department has not
achieved value for money. The Department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit to
claimants, has had weak control of the programme, and has been unable to assess the
value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop. These problems represent a
significant setback to Universal Credit and raise wider concerns about the Department’s
ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic time-scales, and a
lack of openness about progress.

This ends with recommendations which will have to examined in detail.

They involve some substantial changes.

Like the military man that he is Ian Duncan Smith is still prepared to send his troops over the trench tops, regardless…

Work Programme Leavers Face More Misery, Bullying and Sanctions, New Government Press Release..

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Just announced Press Release, 31 May 2013

Work Programme leavers will be targeted by a hit squad (Note: as in ready to hit people) of specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job.

Up to 5 specialist advisers will be based in individual Jobcentres dedicated to working with people not in sustained work after 2 years on the Work Programme.

Claimants will be given an end-of-term report from their Work Programme provider (Note, just like school!)  assessing what progress they have made and their ongoing needs, to inform their new adviser before facing the toughest Jobcentre regime to help them find work. (Note: be afraid, be very afraid!)

At their first appointment they will have to agree a binding (Note: as in Bondage)  back-to-work plan laying out what they are required to do.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:

The Work Programme is getting some of the hardest to help claimants into work despite a tough economic climate.

We always knew that there would be some who would require further support after the Work Programme, which is why we’re introducing this intensive and uncompromising regime.

We’ll be stepping up the pressure on claimants, who will be expected to attend the Jobcentre more frequently, with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work.

Claimants will be expected to be on a training scheme, Mandatory Work Activity placement or intensive work preparation within days of finishing on the Work Programme – losing their benefit if they fail to comply.

An extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work, for instance counselling for people dependent on drug and alcohol.

Claimants will also have to attend the Jobcentre far more frequently than other jobseekers, with weekly signing on being routine and some people being required to meet their adviser every day.

The advisers, who will be focused on working with those returning from the Work Programme, will take a tough approach to monitoring (note, a licence for bullying)  whether claimants are sticking to their plan with anyone failing to participate losing their benefits.

The programme comes after Jobcentres involved in a trailblazer found that claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit.

Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching and to allow their adviser to check their work search activity online.

The tough sanctions regime will see anyone failing to comply with mandatory activity lose benefit for 4 weeks for a first failure, with penalties of up to 3 years for serial offenders (Note: Just like criminals!).

The intensive support will last for 6 months, and will be used for all Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants returning from the Work Programme who need more intensive support.

The Work Programme

The Work Programme was launched in June 2011 and is aimed at those at risk of long-term unemployment. Providers are paid according to results to get people into work, with extra incentives to support the hardest to help.

The Work Programme has already helped more than 207,000 people off benefits and into a job (Note: very few out of 3 million unemployed and ‘help’ is a weasel word that covers anybody who got a job with or without any aid whatsoever).

Our research report on the Jobcentre Trailblazer includes evidence of positive impacts on a range of employability factors, and statistics published alongside the report show evidence of a positive effect on off-flows of 5 to 7 percentage points compared to the control group of Jobcentre Plus Offer. (Note: who on earth trusts ‘their’ ‘ research’?)

New sanctions regime (Note: they just love sanctions)

The new sanctions regime referred to above came into force on Monday 22 October 2012. Under the new regime there are 3 levels of sanctions:

  • low
  • intermediate
  • high

Low level

Low level sanctions are for failures to undertake specific action as required by a Jobcentre Plus adviser. The sanction for such failures will be one month for a first and 3 months for second and subsequent failures‪.

Intermediate level

Intermediate level sanctions are for failures to actively seek and be available for work. This leads to disentitlement; if the individual makes a new claim then no benefit is payable for up to one month for a first such failure, and 3 months for second and subsequent failures.

Highest level

Highest level sanctions are for failures to comply with the most important job seeking requirements, such as refusing to accept a reasonable job offer, or leaving employment voluntarily without good reason.

Currently claimants face a sanction of anywhere between 1 week and 6 months. The revised sanctions will be for a fixed period that will increase for those who have a history of failing to meet their requirements: 3 months for a first failure, rising to 6 months for a second failure (within a year of the previous failure), and 3 years for a third sanction.

So we can look forward to  more bullying from hectoring ‘advisers’, more people pushed into destitution, and absolutely no solution to mass unemployment.

Bravo Ian Duncan Smith: future generations will certainly remember you.