Despite being beleaguered with defeat in the courts, the threat of further legal action for a different reason, and criticism that a flagship project is likely to fall flat on its arse, the DWP denial machine steams onward.
The fact that it continues to do this flies in the face of logic – but then, this blog has consistently argued that logic has nothing to do with DWP decisions. How can it? This is the government department with Iain Duncan Smith at the helm.
We all know that the Department of Welfare Persecution lost a court case last week, when High Court judges found that the regulations covering assessment of the mentally ill for Employment and Support Allowance break the Equality Act.
Yesterday it was reported – in Inside Housing, because none of the mainstream media would dream of reporting anything that criticises our alleged government – that no fewer than four families have launched a judicial review against the government’s benefit cap on grounds that it is “discriminatory and unreasonable”
They will argue that Mr… Smith did not take into account the impact of the policy on women, children, the disabled, racial and religious minorities, and carers when formulating the policy. Two of the families are expected to immediately fall into rent arrears and face eviction and street homelessness, because their rent exceeds the level of the cap – £500 a week.
And two of the families have fled domestic violence in circumstances where they were financially reliant upon their abusive partners and now risk losing their homes.
The DWP says the benefit cap sets “a fair limit” on what people can get from the state, which is not more than “£500 a week, the average household income”.
The average household income, once state benefits to which they are entitled is taken into account, is currently £605 per week.
On the same day that this new legal challenge was reported, the government itself revealed that it considers the Department of the Wastefully imPracticable’s flagship Universal Credit scheme to be in serious difficulty.
The Major Projects Authority has given it “amber-red” status, which denotes a project in danger of failing – and it wasn’t alone. Also in danger were the department’s fraud and error programme and its plan to introduce the new Personal Independence Payment, which is intended to replace Disability Living Allowance.
The DWP has argued that the rating is out of date, reflecting where the project was eight months ago – but this is clearly nonsense. Eight months ago, the government was telling us that Universal Credit was on track. Now it is saying this is no longer the case.
Also, any fool can say that the evidence is out of date because all statistics used in such reports are from a point in the past. That doesn’t mean they are inaccurate.
In the United States they have – or had – in their justice system a convention known as the “three-strikes law”. This was a statute enacted by state governments which demanded harsher sentences on habitual offenders who are convicted of three or more serious criminal offenses.
Since we in the UK seem to be adopting more and more American policies (their rubbish health system springs immediately to mind), perhaps we should adopt this system. Iain Duncan Smith has already lost in the courts on workfare and on the work capability assessment.
If he loses on the benefit cap, that will be the third strike against him and he should be ejected from government (if this has not already happened by then) along with all the silly so-called ministers who support him.
With new minds at the top of the DWP, its possible that Universal Credit would then be halted and we could see a return to something approximating sanity.
I doubt it, but hope springs eternal.