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Is IPSO incapable of investigating standards at the Jewish Chronicle? Or UNWILLING?

Jo Bird: her complaint against the Jewish Chronicle over inaccuracies in its report about her was upheld; now she, I, and seven other victims of its falsehoods are demanding an investigation into whether the paper’s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level. And guess what? We’re not the only ones.

Remember the letter to newspaper regulator IPSO that This Writer co-signed, requesting a Standards Investigation into the Jewish Chronicle after it notched up 28 recorded breaches of the Editors’ Code and four libel defeats in just three years?

It seems IPSO would rather forget about it.

Tasked with providing a respond by August 12, the organisation’s first reaction was to send a ‘holding’ letter, to which one of my co-signatories, Jo Bird, replied with a list of seven questions.

She then received another holding letter from IPSO’s head of standards, saying she was going on holiday but would get on the case when she got back, and that Lord Faulks, the IPSO chair, would respond on his own account ‘in due course’.

Ms Bird chased this – only to receive yet another ‘holding’ letter saying the head of standards was now sick, and she has written again to say that the questions she asked (When will Faulks write? How many JC breaches has IPSO counted? And others) don’t need the head of standards to answer them.

We expect to receive another ‘holding’ letter.

Meanwhile, there has been another ruling against the JC, involving two code breaches: https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=29092-20 – that makes 37 breaches of the law or the code in 37 months, including seven code breaches and one libel settlement in 2021 alone.

Some of us want to know what’s going on at the so-called press regulator. It should not take more than a month to work out whether there are grounds to investigate the standard of reporting at a newspaper that, over the last three years, has broken the rules – and the law – an average of once a month.

IPSO is itself owned and run by newspaper bosses and owners. Are they concerned that an investigation may create a precedent, setting a bar for investigations that their own newspapers could pass? Are they opposed to an investigation because they like what the JC has been doing? And are they embarrassed by the fact that the JC has put them in an impossible predicament?

Well, their problem is about to get worse.

Hacked Off – the campaign for a national press that is accountable and free of political and commercial influence – is launching a campaign demanding an IPSO standards investigation into the JC, and pointing out at the same time that there are very strong grounds for IPSO to investigate The Times over Islamophobia, The Telegraph on bad science and The Mail on a whole range of subjects – today, September 20, 2021.

Suppose IPSO has been gearing itself up to reject an investigation – or to run a token inquiry and whitewash the JC.

It seems to This Writer that such a course of action is about to become much, much more difficult to justify.

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Trickster Coffey: she says disabled people should switch to Universal Credit – where they’ll be worse-off

Therese Coffey: you wouldn’t think she was trying to get her jollies by encouraging people to quit legacy benefits for Universal Credit with a false claim that they’ll be better-off, would you?

Did Therese Coffey get her doctorate in lying to people?

Having refused calls to extend the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift to so-called “legacy benefits” that sick and disabled people receive – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and others – she has suggested that they should claim UC instead.

People on Severe Disablement Premium (SDP) were unable to make that move until Wednesday (January 27) – when the Tories removed that barrier.

But charities have warned that this is a trap.

People with long-term illnesses and disabilities are more likely to lose money if they switch to UC and, once they have made the move, there is no going back.

It’s just another example of Tory discrimination against people with disabilities, that has reached new heights in the Covid-19 crisis, which they have used as an excuse for persecution.

People who’ve been on SDPs can get £120, £285 or £405 per month in transition payments – depending on their circumstances. But DWP officials have confirmed these payments “will be subject to erosion and cessation” over time.

And the Disability Rights UK group has claimed that, “after transitional help is eroded after time”, Universal Credit will be “significantly less generous” than legacy benefits for disabled people.

So the two-tier discrimination against people with disabilities in fact continues, no matter whether they are on “legacy benefits” or Universal Credit.

This Writer’s advice is clear: stay where you are. Don’t give Trickster Coffey the giggle she wants to get from hurting you.

Source: Fears as DWP chief urges disabled people to switch to Universal Credit from Wednesday – Mirror Online

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Bake Off judge quits Tories over food standards. She was fine with all the other horrific policies

The media – in this case, the Mail – want to draw your attention to the fact that Bake Off judge Prue Leith has ended her membership of the Conservatives over a policy that her Tory MP son supports.

Isn’t it more revealing that she was only upset by the policy that directly affected her?

The Tories could do anything to other people and she didn’t mind at all.

Austerity has killed many thousands – Leith was quite happy about that.

Homelessness and hate crime did not stir her from her work.

She didn’t even bat an eyelid when her son voted to starve English children who have been forced into food poverty by the Conservative Party’s policies.

But the possible arrival of diseased foodstuffs from the United States has outraged her enough to quit her party membership.

I don’t know…

Does she really think the population of the UK need to be protected from low-quality foods, after thinking they didn’t deserve protection from Tory-led austerity, hate and starvation?

Or is it a pose she thinks she has to take as a media personality on a food-related TV show?

Here’s the relevant part of the story:

Prue Leith has quit the Conservative Party after the Government blocked an attempt to enshrine high food standards in law.

A Conservative source told The Mail on Sunday Ms Leith has … cancelled her party membership after growing unhappy with the Government’s stance.

Ms Leith’s son Danny Kruger, the Tory MP for Devizes in Wiltshire, voted with the Government on the Agriculture Bill, defeating an amendment that would have protected British farmers.

And here’s the public reaction:

Yes indeed.

I have never watched Bake Off.

Considering the fact that it has employed a person like Leith, I can honestly say:

I won’t be watching Bake Off in the future, either. Who knows what other abhorrent views are held by the people working on it?

Source: Prue Leith quits Conservative Party in protest at Government’s stance over foods standards | Daily Mail Online

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Coronavirus: NHS debt write-off is further evidence that the Tories only see it as a money machine

Matt Hancock: he has cancelled £13.4 billion of NHS debt – but now we find that it didn’t really exist anyway, except as a way of penalising patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last Thursday that the government is writing off £13.4 billion of National Health Service debt.

Why has no Tory health secretary ever done that before?

There can only be one answer: because they simply didn’t want to.

As Richard Murphy states in his Tax Research UK article, the NHS wasn’t actually in debt to anybody – the money was owed by the government to the government. It was an item of book-keeping.

That book-keeping element was created to introduce hugely-expensive bureaucracy into the health system, that “diverted massive effort into corporate management, PR, and accounting when none of that was needed” as a precursor to full privatisation.

And it also removed the “national” element from the health service because trusts that run deficits are penalised by the Tory system; they have to try to recover the deficit and if they fail to do so, then they are told to recover more the following year.

This meant they were increasingly less likely to be able to provide the health care that patients needed; the money had to go to debt recovery instead.

That means the NHS is no longer a service to improve public health; it is a service to provide money to the Tories.

(And that’s before we even mention the cash that’s being leached away in contracts with private companies, that ends up in shareholder dividends instead of in treatment for patients.)

It’s as Noam Chomsky stated when he described the steps leading to privatisation: you defund, the system stops working, people complain, then you say the public system doesn’t work and commercialisation is the only way forward.

In other words, the Tories have been creating a lie that looks plausible, in order to fool us all into accepting the imposition of a private health service that we won’t be able to afford.

Hancock has written off the debt in order to make it possible for health trusts to buy in the resources they need to fight the coronavirus – which is good, right?

But when the crisis is over, the Tory system will still be in place, putting trusts in the most vulnerable parts of the UK back into debt and increasing health inequality.

Mr Murphy says the answer is to restore full nationalisation to the health service – ending the pointless bureaucracy that negates huge chunks of the annual NHS budget.

At a time when we’ve seen how the Tories left the NHS unprepared for coronavirus, he makes a good point.

Source: Writing off NHS debt of £13.4 billion is a charade. What is required instead is the renationalisation of the NHS: nothing less will do

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Tory corruption: Rich MPs get food and drink debts written off. If you’re poor, you have to pay!

Parliament: Apparently it’s not where the country is governed, but actually a place in which the filthy rich are encouraged to steal money from the very poor – nowhere more blatantly than in the bars and restaurants.

It’s the highest office in the land, yet who do we vote into it? The lowest excuses for humanity.

The Torygraph, of all mainstream rags, has revealed that four MPs, along with a peer, 21 tradespeople and a member of staff at the Houses of Parliament, have had outstanding food and drinks bills written off, to the value of more than £17,000.

They had refused to pay.

MPs earn a minimum of £77,379 a year, and peers take home £305 for every day they attend Parliament. But apparently that isn’t enough for them and they need to default on the bills in that organisation’s bars and restaurants – establishments that are subsidised by your taxes, remember.

Imagine if you had racked up a huge bill at such an eaterie – and then failed to pay. Do you think the owners would write off your bill?

No?

Do you think you’d be taken to court and forced to pay a lot more instead?

It seems more likely, doesn’t it?

So the question arises: Why are these – unnamed – culprits being allowed to force us – the taxpayers – to foot the bill for their gross indulgences?

I don’t know about you but I think that’s misuse of my tax money. We already pay these entitled oafs enough, especially considering the state of the nation, which is thanks to them.

It’s another example of Tory corruption. They allow this because they think our money belongs to them.

We need to find out who the thieves – yes, they’re thieves – are.

And we need to clear them out of Parliament.

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It’s all falling apart for Theresa May

Even the backdrop fell to pieces during Theresa May’s conference speech.

The ‘F’ fell off the slogan behind her. changing it from “A country that works for everyone” to “A country that works OR everyone”.

It rendered the line meaningless but is symbolic of a speech in which Mrs May’s voice cracked dozens of times and which she must have been delighted to have finished.

The ‘E’ subsequently fell off the other end of the slogan’s bottom line, after Mrs May had (mercifully) stopped talking.

What a disaster.

ADDITIONAL: I just found this image on Facebook, which sums up the whole fiasco:


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Cameron’s lies show he must go NOW, not later – and all the other Tories with him

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

David Cameron took to the stage and lied bare-faced to a no-doubt hand-picked audience of hired-handclaps in the finale of one of the most heavily stage-managed – read fake – Conservative Party conferences in history.

Not for the Tories, the open debate and honest disagreements of Labour! Even Boris Johnson’s dissent over tax credits was a cynical piece of attempted-press-manipulation (he voted in favour of the plan to cut tax credits a few weeks ago).

So Cameron mouthed a series of lies, platitudes and nonsenses similar to those of George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith on Monday and Tuesday.

“The British people are decent, sensible, reasonable, and they just want a government that supports the vulnerable, backs those who do the right thing and helps them get on in life. Good jobs; a decent home; better childcare; controlled immigration; lower taxes so there’s more money at the end of the month; an NHS that’s there for them, seven days a week; great schools; dignity in retirement,” he said – and that’s probably about right. But then he said: “That is what people want and that is what we will deliver.” A monstrous lie.

Cameron’s government:

  • Attacks the vulnerable (look at tax credits if you like, or the row over the many deaths of incapacity benefits claimants that could have been avoided if Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith had wanted to);
  • Backs tax fraudsters (the HSBC scandal);
  • Offers poor, zero-hours-contract jobs;
  • Pushes the poor out of their homes (bedroom tax).
  • The UK has been rocked by huge paedophile scandals on Cameron’s watch;
  • The Conservatives have failed to control immigration;
  • Lower taxes mean fewer public services because the money isn’t there to pay for them. The main beneficiaries are the very rich;
  • The NHS is facing its biggest-ever crisis thanks to Tory mismanagement – which is all part of Cameron’s plan;
  • Our schools are being sold off to private companies who intend to profit from them – your child’s education is of secondary interest; and
  • The Tories are being encouraged to cut benefits for pensioners – who will either be dead by 2020 (because of the removal of their benefits?) or will have forgotten who robbed them.

So Cameron’s first claim about the joy of Conservative government was a tenfold lie. It’s impressive – for all the wrong reasons.

And he knows he’s on shaky ground now. A new power has risen in the Labour Party to challenge the basis on which Cameron’s policies are founded – and did exactly that, on the doorstep of the Tory conference, this week.

So Cameron attacked Jeremy Corbyn with all the venom he could muster: “Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader. But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a ‘tragedy. No. A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York.” He was saying that Jeremy Corbyn is soft on terrorists and unsympathetic to their victims. Another lie.

Jeremy Corbyn wanted Osama Bin Laden to face justice for his many crimes. He wanted the man to pay for all the deaths he caused, and he wanted the terrorist alive to provide details of his network of co-conspirators.

By attacking Corbyn’s stance, David Cameron was in fact saying that both he and the Conservative Party support the murder of Bin Laden, rather than his capture, and that they are glad Bin Laden’s co-conspirators were allowed to continue, in freedom – perhaps to form IS or Boko Haram.

But we all knew that Cameron is a liar.

So here’s a statement that he made in the belief that it is true (we have to assume he intended to lie with the others): “I’m starting the second half of my time in this job.”

For the good of the United Kingdom – and the wider world – we must work hard to turn that statement into a lie.

Cameron doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister of Britain for the next five minutes, let alone the next five years.

But the only way to get him out is to attack him, on every level, at all times, and all together.

Expecting someone else to do the heavy lifting won’t be any good at all.

So why not start by reading Cameron’s speech – The Guardian has a transcript here – and then getting in touch with your local newspapers, MP, TV stations, and Cameron himself and raising any or all of the moments at which he lied to the nation.

Put them all on notice. We know they are not to be trusted.

We know they have to go.

We have to make sure that happens soon.

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Why should we endure this disrespect from a public servant?

Awkward indeed: Iain Duncan Smith spent today's meeting with the man he tried to blame for the Universal Credit fiasco - DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux - sitting next to him. When Debbie Abrahams laid into Mr... Smith with the words quoted in the article, Mr Devereux was staring directly at him with an enormous smile on his face.

Awkward indeed: Iain Duncan Smith spent today’s meeting with the man he tried to blame for the Universal Credit fiasco – DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux – sitting next to him. When Debbie Abrahams laid into Mr… Smith with the words quoted in the article, Mr Devereux was staring directly at him with an enormous smile on his face. [Image: Political Scrapbook]

“I can say with the strongest feeling my concern about the hubris you have demonstrated and your tone to this committee. You haven’t explained – certainly to my own satisfaction, and I am sure anybody that has been watching will draw their own conclusions – you have not made any satisfactory explanation about how you have informed, and kept this committee informed, about the difficulties that the Department was experiencing. There has been obfuscation, smoke-and-mirrors, even up to a few weeks before the report from the National Audit Office. The memorandum that was released in August was clearly saying that everything was fine and dandy. It is, clearly, not. I’ll give you one more opportunity to answer, so you can explain to this committee why there is such poor information provided by your Department.”

These were the words of Commons Work and Pensions committee member Debbie Abrahams to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, just a quarter of the way through today’s (Monday) clash over Universal Credit and his Department for Work and Pensions’ appalling book-keeping.

Mr… Smith’s response typified the attitude that she was decrying. He said: “Well, I just don’t agree with you, and I don’t agree that we have done anything else but be open and honest about what the issues are, as and when they have been identified, and what we would do about them, as and when we had made our decisions about that.”

Oh, is that so? One of the first questions asked in the meeting was why Iain Duncan Smith did not tell the committee he had decided to conduct a ‘red team review’ of Universal Credit when he gave evidence to it in September 2012. He said the results had not been ready at the time: “With respect, I don’t have to tell you everything that is happening in the Department until we have reached a conclusion about what’s actually happening; I think I will take those decisions myself and account for the decisions that were taken.”

(He said “with respect” a lot. It became clear that he meant the exact opposite.)

Listening to the evidence again, it seems he tied himself in a knot, because he said the review had reported back in July of 2012, meaning there would have been plenty of time for him to make a full and formal account of his actions to the committee, long before September of that year.

His response? “It was an internal review.”

When committee chair Dame Anne Begg said the committee should have been told the plans were being reviewed as a matter of courtesy, and the September committee meeting would have been the perfect opportunity to explain that a review had taken place, “but at that session you were bullish about how successful everything was, Duncan Smith responded: “With respect [see what I mean?]… I don’t think this committee can run the Department.

This initial exchange set the tone for the entire meeting. Committee members asked questions and Duncan Smith treated them with discourtesy bordering on contempt.

He did not tell the committee about changes to the programme for rolling out Universal Credit because they were not fixed when he met the committee, he said – avoiding the fact that he could have at least said changes were taking place.

Universal Credit costs had not been written off, he said; they had been “written down” (meaning they were said to be worth less money now than when they were introduced). This seems like nonsense to anyone who has seen reports of the sums of money involved – anything from £40 million to £160 million.

Asked whether Universal Credit is still dealing only with single people at the moment, Duncan Smith sidestepped the question and responded that it was being rolled out in phases. Clearly he does have something to hide, even though he began his evidence by saying there had been no attempt to sweep anything “under the carpet”.

He said the whole (improbable) edifice would be working by 2016 – apart from cases involving the most vulnerable group, who receive Employment and Support Allowance. This is an extremely optimistic appraisal, as Duncan Smith is unlikely to be in office by then, and a future government may decide to scrap the whole project as a hopeless waste of millions of pounds.

There is no point in covering details of the whole meeting because you get the gist already. Iain Duncan Smith was determined to deny that he or his Department had committed any mistakes or wrongdoing, while giving away ample evidence that this was exactly what they had done.

And he was rude – at one point he told Glenda Jackson: “I have no idea what you’re asking… You lost me about five minutes ago.” Her equally abrasive reply, “You’ll have to try harder,” was drowned out as he muttered, “It sounds like a foreign language to me.”

The tone of the meeting was not lost on those who were using the Internet to watch it. Their attitude can be summed up in tweets from ‘Tentacle Sixteen’, who commented, “You’re not supposed to have a look of horror on your face when asked if you’ll make details of a public project public.”

He continued: “The most worrying thing out of this select committee so far is IDS’ constant assertion that he doesn’t have to tell people everything.”

And he concluded: “You’re a f***ing public servant IDS, you bloody do have to tell us everything.”

This is exactly the issue.

The information content of this meeting was zero – or as close to it as possible. What we got was a display of posturing, “hubris” – as Debbie Abrahams rightly identified it – and further obfuscation of the facts.

What the meeting did reveal was everything we need to know about Iain Duncan Smith. Here is a man who understands nothing about being a public servant. He thinks that, sitting in a plush Whitehall office, with civil servants running around clearing up his various disasters, that he is somehow above the rest of us and doesn’t have to justify himself.

He’s completely mistaken. He is there as our servant – to act in a way that suits us, not him. It is disrespectful of him to treat us this way.

But he just doesn’t get it.

If enough people had seen his performance today, he could have single-handedly lost the next election for the Conservative Party.

(If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can watch the meeting for yourself, here.)

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Public and private debt reach record levels under ConDem Coalition

inflation

Household debt in the UK has reached a record £1.43 trillion, according to the BBC. What a marvellous achievement for Gideon George Osborne to put next to his already-record public net debt of £1.212 trillion (excluding interventions) or £2.184 trillion (including them).

If you’re surprised at that, don’t be – he needs to pretend that there isn’t any money so he can cut any services that are still left in the public domain after the fire sale of the last few years.

The Tory plan was always to increase private debt. Of course it was – if you cut public spending for people on the breadline, then they go into debt. Why do you think Wonga.com’s owner Dawn Capital is such a prolific contributor to Tory Party funds, with £537,000 in known donations this time last year?

The rich are shielded from debt problems in the same way they are shielded from taxation, thanks to the way our tax laws have been rewritten in their favour – all their money is safely tucked away in tax havens and can’t be touched.

On average, each adult in the UK owes £28,489. Some owe much more than that, though. Yr obdt srvt doesn’t owe a bean to anyone, despite being very poor, so that’s already £28,489 to be spread among everyone else. Mrs Mike isn’t in debt either.

The BBC report cautiously suggests that the record debt level “might increase concerns that the UK’s economic recovery [you know, the one they keep talking about on the news and in Parliament as if it actually exists] is based on increased borrowing, rather than growth sustained by rising incomes” – which of course is correct.

According to The Money Charity, total net lending by UK banks and building societies rose by £1.9 billion in September 2013 – that’s just in one month.

Over the four quarters to Q2 2013, they wrote off £3.67 billion of loans to individuals. In Q2 2013, the daily write-off was £7.61 million.

Based on the latest available data, every day in the UK 285 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt – that’s one every five minutes; 84 properties are repossessed; 1,447 people lost their jobs and eight people became unemployed for more than 12 months; 141 mortgage possession claims are issued and 113 mortgage possession orders are made; and 431 landlord possession claims are issued and 319 landlord possession orders are made.

The benefit system helps nobody. It has been redesigned specifically to push people further into debt – the cap on benefit rate increases to one per cent per year means people are two per cent worse-off for every year it continues, while inflation remains at current levels.

It is in this atmosphere that words written in this blog more than a year ago come back to haunt us all: “What do people do for money when the State fails them and they can’t get work? They fall into the debt trap.

“High-interest, doorstep lending to poor people is Britain’s latest – perhaps only – boom industry. In other words, the government’s sick benefits regime is forcing the poor into debt to organisations that will take away everything they have left, in order to make up payments on a loan whose interest rate they probably made up on the spot.

“And when they’ve taken everything, what do you do then?

“Do you really want your kids to starve?”

Why blame the civil service, Mr… Smith? They only do what you tell them to!

Don't blame Whitehall: Civil servants are highly-trained experts in their field; Conservative politicians are amateurs with opinions. Who do YOU think is responsible for the cock-up called Universal Credit? [Picture: Daily Telegraph]

Don’t blame Whitehall: Civil servants are highly-trained experts in their field; Conservative politicians are amateurs with opinions. Who do YOU think is responsible for the cock-up called Universal Credit? [Picture: Daily Telegraph]

Isn’t it a shame for the Tories that they hung their ‘welfare’ ‘reforms’ on an incompetent like Iain Duncan Smith?

Accused of wasting £140 million of taxpayers’ money on his white elephant Universal Credit scheme (or is it scam?) he can at least take comfort that the latest report followed his lead and fell back on what is now becoming a Conservative Party Standard Excuse: Blame the civil service.

That won’t wash, though. The real reason, as detailed in this blog previously, is lack of interest by Conservative Party ministers like Smith himself.

We call him ‘RTU’ because we believe his incompetence as an Army officer led to him being ‘Returned To Unit’ and eventually shuffled out of the service and it is this history that seems to be repeating itself here.

Let’s have a look at the “alarmingly weak” management for which the Secretary-in-a-State was rightly criticised by the Commons Public Accounts Committee this week.

We know that the project is now well behind schedule, despite protestations to the contrary from RTU and the Department for Work and Pensions. A planned pilot roll-out in April was restricted to just one Job Centre, where they handled only the simplest cases, working them out on spreadsheets because the IT system is open to fraud.

Since then it has been started in Hammersmith, in London, where its success or failure is not yet known.

It is now doubtful whether the project can still be delivered, on-budget, by its 2017 deadline. If it is, what kind of service will it provide?

Of the £2.4 billion set aside, £425 million has already been spent and a sum between £140 million and £161 million is likely to be written off, depending on whose figures you believe.

We know that a secretary was allowed to sign off £23 million worth of purchases because RTU’s systems were so lazy. Does anybody even know what this money bought?

“From the outset, the department has failed to grasp the nature and enormity of the task; failed to monitor and challenge progress regularly; and, when problems arose, failed to intervene promptly,” said Public Accounts Committee chair, Margaret Hodge. She described the system’s implementation as not only poor but “extraordinarily” poor.

And she said the pilot scheme was not a proper pilot, as “It does not deal with the key issues that universal credit must address: the volume of claims; their complexity; change in claimants’ circumstances; and the need for claimants to meet conditions for continuing entitlement to benefit”.

The report by the committee singled out the DWP’s permanent secretary, Robert Devereux, for particular criticism, saying he only became aware of problems in ‘ad hoc’ reviews, because reporting arrangements were inadequate and had not alerted him to problems. Even after he knew of major problems, he did not closely monitor the project, the report stated.

It seems Conservatives on the committee wanted more criticisms to be included, and The Guardian has stated that senior Tories have said they would accept Devereaux’s resignation, if offered.

Let’s face it: we’ve been here before.

Michael Gove’s Education Department is now in a terrible mess because he brought in a gang of “advisors” to operate “above” his officials – who have meanwhile faced huge cuts in their workforce and a disastrous fall in morale. Gove brought his ignorant mates in to force their foolishness on the professionals, as this blog reported in June.

That was when The Spectator weighed in against the civil service, lodging an advance claim that if Universal Credit flops it will be due to the civil service, but if it succeeds it will be a victory for Tory ministers alone.

what a lot of nonsense.

Civil servants do what elected Members of Parliament tell them to do. They pay attention to the wishes of their political leaders and apply their considerable expertise to the problems set for them, in order to produce the required result, within budget, while complying with the strictures laid down by those political leaders.

They are very good at their job.

If they are failing, then the problem must lie with the politicians. If a goal is unrealistic, then blaming the ‘help’ is totally unproductive – it only serves to make them hostile.

And, let’s face it, we’ve all seen sheep with more intelligence than Iain Duncan Smith.

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