Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Lord Freud

Universal Credit Failures: the main issue, “the government’s attitude to managing IT projects.”

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IT Failure After Failure. 

It has long been the view of this Blog that, aside from the mean-spirited government approach to claimants, its unleashing of lawless ‘sanctions’, miserable benefit cuts, the pandering to a growing group of “outsourced” parasitical companies running ‘programmes’ for the out-of-work and testing the disabled, who make a pretty penny out of people’s suffering, there is something wrong with Universal Credit’s computer boffin side.

The Civil Service News (which is a serious and respected  journal, despite its Alternative Fact sounding name) agrees.

Or rather it reports his Lordship Freud saying “it’s not my fault gov,  it’s them there Government’s way of dealing with them IT projects.”

The minister tasked with overseeing the creation of the Universal Credit programme has admitted Whitehall’s outsourcing of IT was a “fundamental mistake” and that government needs to work to attract more digital talent.

Giving evidence to MPs on the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Conservative peer Lord Freud – who resigned from his position as minister for welfare reform in December last year – said that government “has to bring IT back in”.

The introduction of Universal Credit, the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith, has been beset with problems and has repeatedly seen target implementation dates pushed back.

The programme’s aim was to combine six in-work and out-of-work benefits into a single, simpler system, but poor planning, repeated changes of senior civil servant leadership and a lack of understanding of the underlying IT requirements led to it running years behind its initial schedule.

Freud has previously said that both his team and the Government Digital Service team that was later helicoptered in to assist were “naïve” about the complexities of building the service.

In his evidence to MPs, however, Freud indicated that the main issue was the government’s attitude to managing IT projects.

“What I didn’t know, and I don’t think anyone knew, was how bad a mistake it had been for all of government to have sent out its IT,” Freud said.

“It happened in the 1990s and early 2000s. You went to these big firms to build your IT. And I think that was a most fundamental mistake, right across government and probably across governments in the western world.”

He said it had resulted in the Department for Work and Pensions having not an IT department, but an “IT commissioning department” that didn’t know how to do the work required for the project.

“The civil service thought it had the capacity because it could commission the big firms to do it. They didn’t see it as a problem – government as a whole didn’t see it as a problem,” Freud said. “It’s only when you get into it that you realise what a big problem it was.”

Freud added that the DWP had worked to bring that knowledge back in-house, and urged other departments to do the same.

However, he said it was hard to do this because the “image of government with the IT industry is not great”, particularly with uncompetitive pay scales. This, he said, was something that IT has in common with the specialisms of running contracts and project management.

“We need, in government, to be able to pay for those specialisms if we are to pay for those projects.”

After the 2013 reset of the Universal Credit programme, the department took a “twin-track” approach.

This involved rolling out the “live service” – a programme that allowed people to register online but with all further transactions being done over the phone or by post – while continuing to develop the ‘digital’ service that would allow all interaction online.

In his evidence, Freud said that he would have built something smaller, earlier so the team had something to test and learn from.

“It’s impossible to envisage how it will work, something as big as that,” he said, adding that it was very difficult to manage something that was “just conceptual”.

Instead, Freud said, organisations need something to coalesce around and start progressing – even if it isn’t perfect at the start.

Another issue Freud identified in his evidence was a lack of continuity on the civil service side, with six senior responsible officers and six project managers in his first five years on Universal Credit.

About the author

Rebecca Hill is the online editor of PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appear.

While Freud says “it wasn’t me!” this is happening:

Universal Credit “serious risk” to West Dunbartonshire tenants

A council officer made the claim last week as councillors agreed to purchase software, which will predict which tenants will struggle to settle their bills

Fears have been raised over the “serious risk” Universal Credit poses to tenants’ ability to pay their rent.

West Dunbartonshire Council’s Strategic Lead for Housing and Communities, Peter Barry made the frightening claim last week as councillors agreed to go ahead with the purchase of software which, it is hoped, will predict which tenants will struggle to settle their bills.

Members of the authority’s housing and communities committee gave the green light to officers to spend £50,000 on RentSense which analyses two years worth of data identifying tenants who may be liable to default on payments.

Council officers stressed that this will allow support to be given to tenants in financial need at an early stage.

Mr Barry said: “The biggest risk for us is Universal Credit. The risk to council tax and rent collection rates are a serious risk.

“To be able to address that before it becomes a problem is critical for us.

“The software is directed at contacting people who are in rent arrears.

“We still need to make better analysis rather than waiting on rent issues becoming a problem. We have got to get into these households when they are in week one or week two to get a payment plan in place. The software allows us to do it.”

Written by Andrew Coates

February 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Lord Freud Questioned about Universal Credit Cock-ups.

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His Lordship Appears Today Before the Work and Pension Committee.

Last night Channel Four News reported that Lord Freud will appear today before Parliament’s Work and Pension Committee for their Inquiry into Universal Credit.

8 February 2017 9:30 am

Oral Evidence Session


Lord Freud, former Minister of State for Welfare Reform, Department for Work and Pensions


The Wilson Room, Portcullis House.

Channel Four News covered many of the flaws of Universal Credit highlighted in the Guardian article below (thanks to people posting this in the comments).

 Freud, “the architect of the controversial universal credit system”, who stepped down as Minister last December,  will be asked about these ‘difficulties’.

According to well-establish rumour Freud once got out of hand in Trafalgar Square, with his pal Bertie Wooster, on Boat Race Night.

His credible claim was that it was Bertie who nicked the Copper’s helmet and spent the night in the cells, appearing before the Beak under the name of Leon Trotski.

Bertie’s defence of “stout denial” is, nevertheless, thought to be the strategy his Lordship intends to follow.

Universal credit flaws pushing claimants towards debt and eviction    and

Guardian 7th of February. 

Recipients falling into rent arrears because of payment delays, forcing them to turn to food banks, Guardian investigation reveals.

Thousands of benefit claimants are facing debt, rent arrears and eviction as a result of policy design flaws in universal credit, according to landlords and politicians, who are demanding an overhaul of the system.

They have warned that UC rules that require claimants to wait at least six weeks for a first benefit payment mean many are going without basic living essentials, forcing them to turn to food banks and loan sharks.

Ministers are being urged to slow down the national rollout and to increase support for vulnerable claimants who are struggling to cope with the demands of monthly payments and an increasingly online-only system.

The findings have emerged during an investigation by the Guardian, which has also revealed that:

  • Eight out of 10 social housing tenants moved on to UC are falling into rent arrears or increasing the level of pre-existing arrears.
  • Families unable to manage the regulation 42-day wait for a first payment are regularly referred to food banks by housing associations or local MPs.
  • Some claimants are waiting as long as 60 days for an initial payment because of processing delays on top of the formal wait.
  • Uncertainty about the system has contributed to a dramatic decline in the number of private landlords willing to take on benefit recipients, even if they are in work.

Organisations representing more than 1m council households said that UC claim processing problems had notably worsened over the past few months. The National Federation of Almos, which represents arm’s length organisations running council housing, and the Association of Retained Council Housing called for payment waits to be reduced.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

Universal Credit to hit the Low Paid as Scheme is in Shambles.

More and more problems about the government’s welfare ‘reforms’ are coming up (Hat-tip Gazza and all posters).

Tomorrow Channel Four’s Dispatches focus on Universal Credit (8 pm).

The government say their flagship new benefit, Universal Credit, is working well and is helping people into work. Critics say it is a shambles. Dispatches goes undercover to investigate.

There are plenty of difficulties with the new system and our posters have not hesitated to point them out.
This is just one.

The following appeared in the Guardian in January.

Workers who claim benefits told to increase hours or lose universal credit

Nearly 1m people who are in work and claim benefits may be required to work longer, increase their earnings or face losing access to the new universal credit, two welfare ministers, Lord Freud and Mark Hoban, said on Monday.

The state’s capacity to ask more of those in work and those that are self-employed is likely to be transformed by the introduction of universal credit in April, the ministers said at a Policy Exchange event.

Lord Freud, the welfare minister, said: “The fact that those in work will come under the ambit of the JobCentre Plus for the first time as a result of universal credit gives the government radical new opportunities.

“Those in work currently face no obligations within the system to increase their hours in work and the system offers them no incentives to do so either. People on low wages can lose up to 96p in every £1 they earn as they increase their hours in work.”

He claimed that as a result employers told him their staff did not want to work longer hours for fear of losing benefits. He cited B&Q as one firm that had told him their staff repeatedly requested not to work longer hours for fear of losing benefit: “This conversation is replicated in company after company.”

He claimed work incentives under universal credit will be as much as 12 times more generous, as recipients will retain more of their extra income. Critics say that the system will penalise those who can’t increase their hours. Hoban said that as part of the drive to keep part-time workers in work for longer, he proposed these workers could receive monthly statements telling them how much better off they would be if they increased their hours, as well as receive texts telling them how much they will benefit from working longer hours, or getting better-paid work through developing higher skills.

He said new demands could also be placed on the self-employed, pointing out that the tax credit system as it stands allowed people to pursue hobbies, earn nothing and subsidise their income through state support “without any expectation that they will increase their earnings and move towards self-sufficiency. This flies in the face of a principled welfare system”.

The latest phase in DWP thinking came as the thinktank Policy Network published separate comparative international polling showing little support in Britain for a shift away from a traditional welfare state to one more similar to Northern Europe, where spending is focused on supporting working families and early years.

The Policy Network paper, backed by YouGov polling, claims that a conservative bias in social attitudes to welfare – entrenched support for the traditional welfare state, promising higher pension payments, social security benefits, and public spending on health and education – has been reinforced by the financial crisis, while public support for welfare spending on new social risks such as gender equality childcare and skills has little support.

The DWP said: “Universal credit brings together a vast array of on- and out-of-work benefits, and is due to be spread across the UK by 2017. Currently, workers who claim tax credits or housing benefit have no expectations placed upon them to help them reduce their reliance on welfare. Under universal credit, working claimants who could reasonably be expected to increase their earnings will be expected to take action to do so.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 8, 2015 at 11:16 am

Lord Freud Bounces Back at House of Lords – Celebrates Sanctions and Job Coaches.

Most people would have thought that Lord Freud would have gone into hiding after his comments that some disabled people were ‘not worth’ the minimum wage.

That he would be right now trembling in some dusty bunker, grasping at a bottle of whisky, swallowing tranquillisers  and contemplating a loaded revolver on a desk in front of him.

Not so!

The dapper gent found time last week to pontificate on the government’s success in renaming”client-facing people” “Job coaches” and other “transformations” his department has brought into the world.

During his generously paid attendance at the House of Lords, that is.

A few half-hearted and meaningless words (‘full and unreserved apology’) about his vile statement and the old boy is away again!

Sanction “safety nets”, encouraging Monetary Policy Committees,  transforming roles, work coaches….

Does he ever stop?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014.


House of Lords. 

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in implementing the Oakley report on Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): We welcome the findings of Matthew Oakley’s review and have published our response, in which we accepted all his recommendations. We know that sanctions play an important role in conditionality, and it is crucial that the system is operated effectively and fairly. We are taking forward all recommendations and have already completed a number of improvements.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, as welcome as any improvements are to this punitive sanctions regime, given that Mr Oakley himself acknowledged the narrowness of his brief, the historically high level of sanctions and the accumulating evidence, including from food bank providers, of the hardship that they are causing, will the Minister now accept the growing demand for a more thorough, independent review of the whole sanctions system, as called for by the Work and Pensions Committee?

Lord Freud: I will respond to the noble Baroness in a moment, but first I would like to take this opportunity to repeat briefly the apology that I made last week. I want to make a full and unreserved apology for the comments that I made at the Conservative Party conference. Of course disabled people should be paid

21 Oct 2014 : Column 548

at least the minimum wage, just like everybody else, and I am profoundly sorry for any offence that I caused.

I turn to the noble Baroness’s question. Matthew Oakley found that benefit sanctions provide a vital backdrop in the social security system for jobseekers, and the OECD has ranked the UK as mid-table for the strictness of its sanctions regime. My right honourable friend Esther McVey has looked at these recommendations more widely and has made sure that we are reviewing claimant communications for all JSA claimants, not just the ones whom Matthew Oakley looked at, and that we are introducing a new IT interface to make sure that our relationship with local authorities works more smoothly.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, does my noble friend think that the largest annual fall in unemployment ever recorded, which was announced the other day, and the fact that 116,000 more disabled people are in work, might just have something to do with the painstaking work that he has done, both for the previous Government and for this Government, in bringing about the welfare reforms that are bringing to so many people, able bodied and disabled, the opportunity of a place in the workplace?

Lord Freud: As my noble friend said, the issue is that we are doing everything we can to help people into the workplace. It was a very encouraging assessment from the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, which said:

“A tightening in the eligibility requirements for some state benefits might also have led to an intensification of job search”.

That echoes something that the deputy governor had said a little while before. It is apparent that our reforms are working, with employment up by 1.7 million since 2010 and record numbers of people now in work.

Earl Attlee (Con): My Lords, the Oakley review suggested that some claimants do not understand—or even open—their correspondence about sanctions. What are we doing about this?

Lord Freud: Matthew Oakley was very concerned about the communications aspects of talking to claimants about sanctions. We have taken that point very seriously. Indeed, we have accepted his recommendations on that and are going further; we are reviewing and improving all our claimant communications on sanctions across every benefit, and we aim to ensure that people understand that they have received a sanction and why they have received it. We have introduced a claimant communications unit that tries to get the language right—because, as many noble Lords know, some of the language that the DWP put out in the past was clunky at best.

Baroness Sherlock (Lab): My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister has taken the opportunity to read the evidence that was given to Matthew Oakley when he did this report. I accept that sanctions are a necessary part of the system, but it is quite clear that many people have been sanctioned who have done literally

21 Oct 2014 : Column 549

nothing wrong. Look at the evidence from the CAB of the man sanctioned twice for missing appointments with his Work Programme provider; in fact, he had been to all the appointments with a company to which it had subcontracted him, but he was sanctioned. Then there was the man who was sanctioned after being told to be in two different places at once and the woman who was sanctioned for being in hospital having treatment for cervical cancer, despite having given advance notice of her hospital appointment to the system before she went in. I could go on. There is a very real risk of claimants starting to believe that the Government are more concerned with cutting their benefits than getting them into work. Will the Government sort this?

Lord Freud: My Lords, it is clearly utterly important that the sanctions regime is fair to people. We have put in layer on layer of protections and safety nets in the machine. People have, to start with, five days to respond to the letter saying that we are looking at a sanction. Then it goes to a decision-maker and then, if claimants do not like that, to a mandatory reconsideration, which is an extra layer. Then you can go into the tribunal process, and we have hardship. We are putting many measures in to make sure that we run this system as fairly as we possibly can.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope (LD): My Lords, I associate myself with the remarks made earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth. Having worked with him closely in the past four or five years, I think that the Minister plays an absolutely crucial and effective role in the important reforms that are designed to assist low-paid families in this country, and if he was not here, things would be harder to deliver on time and on budget. However, the scale of sanctions surprises me, with 800,000 or 900,000 sanctions per year. That is not something that I expected ever to see. The claimant commitment that we have is beginning to appear to be used as a coercion document to get people to do things that they do not really want. Will the Minister look again at the report that Professor Paul Gregg did some years ago, which suggested that the way in which to get an appropriate use of sanctions is to involve the claimants at an early stage in a joint enterprise to get a claimant commitment to work?

Lord Freud: My Lords, we have really transformed the role of the client-facing people in Jobcentre Plus and turned them into work coaches; that is what the claimant commitment does. It is something that has been done very recently. The relationship between claimants and the work coaches has changed very substantially already.

Protests over Welfare Reform: Lord Freud Put Outside his Comfort Zone.

From the BBC,


The BBC’s Tom Symonds: “Protesters have taken over the road”Up to 300 anti-cuts protesters – some posing as removal men – blocked a road outside the north London home of welfare minister Lord Freud earlier.

More pictures from UK Uncut  on Facebook here.

Here at Ipswich Unemployed Action we are pleased to hear that our old friend Lord Freud got it in the neck.
Here is some of his background (adapted from Wikipedia).
“Freud was a Financial Times journalist. In 1983 he worked fir Rowe & Pitman. He oprated over 50 deals, raising more than £50bn in 19 countries. Many were high profile, including the flotations of Eurotunnel and EuroDisney.
His role in the deals earned him a great deal of publicity and criticism.
By 2003, Freud had become the vice-chairman of investing banking at the firm, now known as UBS AG.
He retired early at the age 53, claiming that he was bored with the City.In late 2006, Freud was appointed by the Tony Blair, to provide a nominally independent review of the British welfare to work system.
His subsequent recommendations called for expanded private sector involvement in the welfare system, for substantial resources to be found to help those on Incapacity Benefit back into “economic activity” and for single parents to be required to take paid employment earlier.
Although his recommendations on single parents were immediately adopted, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007 other restructuring measures were soft-pedalled.(Note, oh no they weren’t).
He was later rehired as an adviser to the government when James Purnell was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2008.
He was involved in producing a white paper, published in December 2008.
This would require most people receiving benefits either to participate in some form of employment or prepare formally to find paid employment later.
He said, “We cannot have people simply loafing about, doing nothing and expecting the state to finance their lifestyles,”
“”That is the way to the destruction of our society.”
In February 2009, Freud joined the Conservative Party, which at that time was not in government. He was given a life peerage as Baron Freud, of Eastry in the county of Kent and became a shadow minister for welfare in the House of Lords.
As of 2012, Freud is in charge of reform of the benefits system.”
His lordship has never done an honest day’s work in his life.
He is now making our lives a misery.
The sooner he joins another Baron(ess) the better!