DWP debate highlights Duncan Smith’s failure to perform

“This particular Secretary of State, along with his Department, is pushing people through [the] cracks and hoping that the rest of the country will not notice that they have disappeared.” – Glenda Jackson MP, June 30, 2014.

Yesterday’s Parliamentary debate on the performance of the Department for Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith was more like a trial, with witnesses lining up to condemn the accused.

If the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit) thought he would be able to show that his behaviour had improved, he was sorely mistaken – as the comment above illustrates.

It is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.

But we were discussing the debate as a trial. Let us first look at the evidence in favour of the government.

There. That was illuminating, wasn’t it?

Seriously, the government benches were unable to put up a single supportable point against the mountain of evidence put forward by Labour.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary-in-a-State, resorted yet again to his favourite tactic – and one for which he should have been sacked as an MP long ago – lying to Parliament. He accused Labour of leaving behind a “shambles” – in fact the economy had begun to improve under intelligent guidance from Alistair Darling. “The economy was at breaking point,” he said – in fact the British economy cannot break; it simply doesn’t work that way. His claim that “We were burdened with the largest deficit in peacetime history” is only supportable in money terms, and then only because inflation means the pound is worth so much less than it was in, say, the 1940s – or for the entire century between 1750 and 1850. He called yesterday’s debate “a cynical nugget of short-term policy to put to the unions,” but the evidence below renders that completely irrelevant.

He said complaints about long delivery times for benefits were “out of date” – a common excuse. He’ll do the same in a few months, when the same complaint is raised again.

“Universal Credit is rolling out to the timescale I set last year,” he insisted – but we all know that it has been ‘reset’ (whatever that means) by the government’s Major Projects Authority.

He said there had been four independent reviews of the work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, with more than 50 recommendations by Sir Malcolm Harrington accepted by the government. This was a lie. We know that almost two-thirds of the 25 recommendations he made in his first review were not fully or successfully implemented.

He said appeals against ESA decisions “are down by just under 90 per cent” – but we know that this is because of the government’s unfair and prejudicial mandatory reconsideration scheme – and that the DWP was bringing in a new provider to carry out work capability assessments. Then he had to admit that this provider has not yet been chosen! And the backlog of claims mounts up.

He tried to justify his hugely expensive botched IT schemes by pointing at a Labour scheme for the Child Support Agency that wasted hundreds of millions less than his Universal Credit, without acknowledging the obvious flaw in his argument: If he knew about this mistake, why is he repeating it?

Conservative Mark Harper said Labour opposed the Tories’ most popular scheme – the benefit cap. That was a lie. Labour supported the cap, but would have set it at a higher level. We know that the Coalition government could not do this because it would not, then, have made the huge savings they predicted.

Now, the evidence against.

First up is Rachel Reeves, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions: “After £612 million being spent, including £131 million written off or ‘written down’, the introduction of Universal Credit is now years behind schedule with no clear plan for how, when, or whether full implementation will be achievable or represent value for money.

Over 700,000 people are still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment, and… projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance has risen by £800 million since DecemberThe Government [is] still not able to tell us which provider will replace Atos.

Personal Independence Payment delays have created uncertainty, stress and financial costs for disabled people and additional budgetary pressures for Government… Desperate people, many of whom have been working and paying into the system for years or decades and are now struck by disability or illness, waiting six months or more for help from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Work Programme has failed to meet its targets, the unfair bedroom tax risks costing more than it saves, and other DWP programmes are performing poorly or in disarray.

“Spending on housing benefit for people who are in work has gone up by more than 60 per cent, reflecting the fact that more people are in low-paid or insecure work and are unable to make ends meet, even though they may be working all the hours God sends.

“More than five million people — 20 per cent of the workforce — are paid less than the living wage. Furthermore, 1.5 million people are on zero-hours contracts and 1.4 million people are working part time who want to work full time.

“This… is about the young woman diagnosed with a life-limiting illness who has waited six months for any help with her living costs. It is about the disabled man whose payments have been stopped because he did not attend an interview to which he was never invited.

“The Government are wasting more and more taxpayers’ money on poorly planned and disastrously managed projects, and are allowing in-work benefits to spiral because of their failure to tackle the low pay and insecurity that are adding billions of pounds to the benefits bill.

“The Government are careless with the contributions that people make to the system, callous about the consequences of their incompetence for the most vulnerable, and too arrogant to admit mistakes and engage seriously with the task of sorting out their own mess.

“What this Government have now totally failed to do is to remember the human impact, often on people in vulnerable circumstances, of this catalogue of chaos. Behind the bureaucratic language and spreadsheets showing backlogs and overspends are people in need who are being let down and mistreated, and taxpayers who can ill afford the mismanagement and waste of their money.

“To fail to deliver on one policy might be considered unfortunate; to miss one’s targets on two has to be judged careless; but to make such a complete mess of every single initiative the Secretary of State has attempted requires a special gift. It is something like a Midas touch: everything he touches turns into a total shambles.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State will spew out dodgy statistics, rant and rave about Labour’s record, say “on time and on budget” until he is blue in the face and, in typical Tory style, blame the staff for everything that goes wrong.”

Julie Hilling (Labour) provides this: “The Government do not know what they are talking about… They talk about the number of jobs being created, but they do not know how many of them are on zero-hours contracts or how many are on Government schemes or how many have been transferred from the public sector.”

Stephen Doughty (Labour/Co-op): “another stark indictment of their policies is the massive increase in food banks across this country.”

Helen Jones (Labour): “When I asked how many people in my constituency had been waiting more than six months or three months for medical assessments for personal independence payment, the Government told me that the figures were not available. In other words, they are not only incompetent; they do not know how incompetent they are!”

Sheila Gilmore (Labour): “Although the problems with Atos were known about—and it is now being suggested that they had been known about for some time—a contract was given to that organisation for PIP. Was due diligence carried out before the new contract was issued?”

Gordon Marsden (Labour): “Many of my constituents have been caught by the double whammy of delays involving, first, the disability living allowance and now PIP. They have waited long periods for a resolution, but because a decision is being reconsidered, their Motability — the lifeline that has enabled them to get out of their homes — has been taken away before that decision has been made. Is that not a horrendous indictment of the Government?”

Emily Thornberry (Labour): “I have been making freedom of information requests.. in relation to mandatory reconsiderations. When people get their work capability assessment, and it has failed, before they can appeal there has to be a mandatory reconsideration. The Department does not know how many cases have been overturned, how many claimants have been left without any money and how long the longest period is for reconsideration. It cannot answer a single one of those questions under a freedom of information request.”

Natascha Engel (Labour): “The welfare state is designed as a safety net to catch people who absolutely cannot help themselves… That safety net is being withdrawn under this government, which is certainly pushing some of my constituents into destitution.”

There was much more, including the devastating speech by Glenda Jackson, partly in response to Natascha Engels’ comments, that is reproduced in the video clip above.

The vote – for the House of Commons to recognise that the DWP was in chaos and disarray – was lost (of course). A government with a majority will never lose such a vote.

But once again, the debate was won by the opposition. They had all the facts; all the government had were lies and fantasies.

By now, one suspects we all know somebody who has died as a result of Coalition government polices on welfare (or, preferably, social security). Two such deaths have been reported in the Comment columns of Vox Political since the weekend, and it is only Tuesday.

That is why it is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.

Share it with your friends, use parts of it in letters to your local papers or radio stations, even mentioning it in conversation will help if the other person isn’t aware of the facts.

Don’t let it be suppressed.

You don’t want to do Iain Duncan Smith’s work for him, do you?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. […] "This particular Secretary of State, along with his Department, is pushing people through [the] cracks and hoping that the rest of the country will not notice that they have disappeared." – Glenda …  […]

  2. Tony Dean July 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I can find no media comment about the fireworks filled debate AT ALL.
    From past experience if I try and get an airing for such matters on an internet forum all I get is abuse because nothing is anywhere in the media. It has been happening for years.

    • Mike Sivier July 1, 2014 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Just use the Internet link to the relevant part of Hansard if ppl are trying to suggest it didn’t happen.

      • Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) July 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

        There was coverage—albeit paltry—of yesterday’s acrimonious debate:
        (http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2014/06/30/labour-enters-ids-freedom-of-information-battle-with-demand), but I agree that it wasn’t covered by Britain’s mainstream press.

        I’m still fuming over yesterday’s opposition day debate, which I firmly believe was badly bungled by Labour. I had suggested to Rachael Reeves, who was evidently cowed by Iain Duncan Smith’s vicious attack, that she bring up the scandal of inappropriate benefit sanctions (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stitching-up-claimants-part-job-says-3537051)—and she failed to do so.

        Labour should have slammed Jobcentre Plus staff and the DWP for imposing inappropriate sanctions on benefit claimants. It’s Indefensible, and it’s wrongdoing.

        JCP staff are knowingly engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.

        • Mike Sivier July 1, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

          I wasn’t aware of that; you’re right – it should have been a major point.
          What they did was good, though – the government didn’t have any answers (with evidence) to respond to the criticisms.

  3. A6er July 1, 2014 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  4. […] DWP debate highlights Duncan Smith’s failure to perform. […]

  5. Tony Dean July 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    I am always linking to Hansard, that does not stop the abuse. If it isn’t on the Hate Mail or the Torygraph a significant number of people take no notice.

    • Mike Sivier July 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      Satisfy yourself with the knowledge that they are ignorant fools and concentrate on their friends instead? ;-)

  6. lanzalaco July 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    The problem is sitting through a parliamentary debate requires too much hard work and attention span for the current generation of soundbite twitter fed media jockeys.

    • Mike Sivier July 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      Even trawling through Hansard is hard work! That’s why this country needs dedicated people who are willing to spend half a day doing it. :-/

      • Tony Dean July 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

        1/2 a day? I often spend more time than that actually watching the debates live my TV and select committees live on my PC.
        (I know I am a sad but well informed person.)

  7. lanzalaco July 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Not seen that many parliamentary debates too know both sides..so far it seems the Tories spend most of it waffling, avoiding the point and making tributes to each other. Also why were almost all the labour speakers, women in this one ? The few females present here in the Tory party are interestingly all semi-masculine in appearance and manner.. even the once pretty Ester McVey blares like a foghorn and now has a mug like Robocop !

  8. Tony Dean July 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Candidate for what job? Off topic a tad I am currently watching the finance bill debate. Apparently throughout most of Thatcher’s term in office the top income tax rate was 60%

    • Mike Sivier July 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Candidate for the job of reporting Parliament.
      I think that’s right about the 60 per cent Income Tax rate.

  9. JK July 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    With my hand on my heart I can’t understand how this is allowed to go on, even with David Cameron as Prime Minister. I am baffled and completely at a loss as to how IDS, Freud and McVey can get away with such incompetence and dishonesty. In the whole of my life I have never witness anything quite as bad as this before under any government.

  10. Thomas M July 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    IDS has the opposite of the Midas touch-every project he touches seems to turn to doggy-do. I’d be smiling if he ended up in charge of the Conservative Party’s re-election campaign.

  11. Anthony O'Connor July 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    https://www.facebook.com/events/1451892188389522/ Absolutely brilliant speech from Glenda Jackson. I am just sharing an event I’m trying to get going as I’m sick to death of these Tory rats and think this would be a great opportunity to have our say against them. Great piece Mike will share on my Facebook page.

  12. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady July 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    … and the award for best MP in the House of Commons goes to (opens envelope) … Glenda Jackson! You go girl

  13. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady July 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on glynismillward189.

  14. beastrabban July 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This is another piece detailing the lies and murderous incompetence of IDS’ DWP. IDS’ precious welfare reforms are vastly over budget, over time, and have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands from hunger, despair and privation. Yet all we hear from RTU are more lies from Smith, and a complete failure to hold the government to account from the mainstream news. Mike urges us to reblog and publicise this. I agree. The piece is also worth watch for Glenda Jackson’s devastating speech denouncing Smith and his reforms, to which the only answer he has is the sanctimonious smirk he always makes when faced with criticism he doesn’t have the wit to answer.

  15. jaypot2012 July 1, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    All the lies, all the evasion, all the filth that IDS and Co. spew to cover up what they have been doing – they are killing people and they don’t care!
    I think that Labour did a good job yesterday, but it could have been even better.
    This most certainly SHOULD have been reported in the mainstream press but yet again, it’s covered up and millions of people won’t know anything about it.
    We must keep blogging about it, and spreading it as far as we can – as for me, I’ll have to open a twitter account and open my mind that bit more and spread things like this around.

  16. jaypot2012 July 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    You just HAVE to watch Glenda Jackson’s speech – go that woman.
    Also, please, please share this far and wide – it’s that important.

  17. papagray July 2, 2014 at 9:20 am - Reply

    looks like they are timing all the bad news around football matches, don’t forget most disabled will vote more for a labour orientated candidate, than a tory one, they rely on banking sector and pensioners that is not one of pensioners benefits have been touched, well done Glenda try it during question time on tv

  18. lanzalaco July 2, 2014 at 11:05 am - Reply

    climbing to 60,000 views for Glenda Jackson now.. I am guessing as the video was linked in one new statesman article.

    • Mike Sivier July 2, 2014 at 11:35 am - Reply

      Absolutely. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the multitude of links from blogs like this one or being viewed by people who did a YouTube search for it – it must have been the Statesman. ;-)

      • lanzalaco July 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm - Reply

        I hope it was the blogs, at least then we can start to quantify the effect of the independent press.

        • Mike Sivier July 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm - Reply

          In all honesty I think we still have a long way to go.

          However – look at the number of complaints to the BBC about its non-coverage of the anti-austerity march: 6,000. They would have been prompted by the social media because the story wasn’t mentioned anywhere else (unless you think Russia Today’s viewers all leapt up to do the complaining, which wouldn’t make sense as they, at least, did get coverage).
          It has been said that, to get the number of people aware of an issue, you should multiply the number of people who actually did something about it by a factor of… eight? 10?
          Even that seems small to me, as my own articles alone reached more than 60,000 people!

          • lanzalaco July 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm

            thats a massive readership if this is unique visits. I dont know how the webcounter can know with most of us on floating ISP… perhaps divide total by average number of visits of a typical reader makes in that period ?

          • Mike Sivier July 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm

            Around 62,000 hits for one article over two days.

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