Private consultants must love Iain Duncan Smith; whenever he wants their advice they know they can make a downpayment on a new house.
(Or car. Or yacht. Whatever.)
He has blown £15.8 billion on Universal Credit.
The Bedroom Tax hasn’t saved the Conservative Government any money but he is prepared to defend it to the bottom of his chequebook (using your money).
Now we learn that he has secretly employed consultants to privatise a government scheme that used to work well but has been subjected to Conservative cuts that mean it would be better to kill it altogether.
Access to Work pays for practical support to get jobs for disabled people – or keep them in the work they already have.
The problem is that, as Frances Ryan reported in The Guardian in January last year, “it seems that the government started quietly cutting the amount of support available, resulting in payment delays and fewer hours of help. But as the changes were never publicly announced, even the people using the scheme are in the dark.”
The Independent reported that the Conservative Government released a report on a plan to cut the amount of money available via Access to Work, hours after its general election win last year: “A policy document originally announced in March by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suggests a cap on how much the £108m fund can pay to people who use it. An impact assessment of the policy was released on the day the general election results.”
So we’ve established that the scheme was over-subscribed and did not have enough cash to support the number of people who were eligible for its help. The Tories needed to find a way to make it cheaper. That leaves one simple question:
Why on Earth did Iain Duncan Smith think privatisation was the answer?
You see, privatising a service means it is handed over to people whose only concern is the amount of profit they can make from it.
Access to Work was spending more than expected as a public service.
There is only one place the privateers could make savings, in order to create a profit: The amount provided to the disabled.
If they cut that, it defeats the point of the exercise – disabled people will not be able to sustain their continued employment.
The whole idea of privatising Access to Work is, therefore, utter foolishness.
Expect an official announcement soon.
Iain Duncan Smith has paid consultants £200,000 to draw up secret plans for the possible privatisation of a key welfare service.
The Work and Pensions Secretary hired the advisers to look at putting the Access to Work scheme up for tender.
The Access to Work programme employs more than 600 people and is responsible for helping the disabled and long-term sick find a job.
A memo seen by the Daily Mirror admits that any privatisation could be seen to weaken the service and advises ministers not to make a public announcement about the plans.
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