Tag Archives: think tank

First health, now welfare – Damian Green gets on the privatisation bandwagon

Damian Green: He should be a claimant at a Job Centre - not running them [Image: Getty].

Damian Green: He should be a claimant at a Job Centre – not running them [Image: Getty].


Work and Pensions Secretary – and Tory ‘useful idiot’ – Damian Green has said he wants more private firms involved in the social security system – despite the clear dangers demonstrated by recent attempts.

It is only a few weeks since private US firm Concentrix had to be stripped of a contract investigating tax credit fraud for HM Revenue and Customs, after it wrongly stripped thousands of people of the money they were due.

May we assume that this firm was on a payment-by-results contract that would encourage it into fraud?

He was giving his speech at a conference hosted by the right-wing Reform think tank, which wants to reduce public spending and tax to the levels of Ireland and Australia (around 35 per cent of GDP). What’s wrong with increasing GDP so the current – or a greater – amount of spending becomes a smaller proportion of it?

Reform would cut tax in order to allow UK citizens to spend more money on their own and their families’ future social security needs, claiming this would obtain more efficient, high-quality services. Don’t all laugh at once!

And Reform is very keen on cutting what it calls “pensioner gimmicks” like the winter fuel payment that prevents senior citizens from having to choose between heating and eating. These people are not very nice!

Mr Green said:

“To achieve a successful welfare system in the 21st century you need to give more decision-making power to individuals, and give more trust to the voluntary sector and private organisations to deliver services.”

There is no evidence to support these wild claims. In fact, the example of Concentrix shows private organisations are entirely unworthy of our trust in such matters.

Furthermore, individuals on low pay, faced with a choice between eating now, or having a pension/benefit payment at some time in the future, must always choose to service the immediate need. Survival is the first order of business. Mr Green’s assertion is based on a false assumption that people have spare cash.

He continued:

“The government is a necessary, but not sufficient provider of welfare. It can, and does, act as the guarantor of fairness within the welfare system to set the rules. It can also provide the backbone of the assistance system through more than 700 Jobcentre Plus offices.

We have seen that a Conservative Government is no such thing. Is the Work Capability Assessment, that governs ESA and PIP eligibility, fair? No. It has caused thousands of deaths – both recorded and unadmitted. Is the Jobseekers’ Allowance system fair? No. It demands that claimants waste their time meeting silly requirements when they could be doing something meaningful.

“What it must not try to do is assume that it can provide all the help necessary.”

What does he mean by this? The Department for Work and Pensions does not currently provide any meaningful “help”. It persecutes.

He added: “The first principle is that a welfare state is not enough – we need a welfare system, involving many players – health professionals, employers large and small, a whole range of voluntary organisations.

No. This is a guaranteed route to a corrupt system in which the citizens of the UK are simply there to be exploited by the private sector.

“The second is that for most people the purpose of the welfare system is to help them get into work, stay in work, and progress in work. We should offer work for those who can, and help for those who could.

We have already seen that help is not supplied by the Conservative DWP. As for work – zero-hour contracts, part-time jobs and insecure placements that all force people to claim in-work benefits? No, thank you.

“The third is that we should offer care for the minority who can’t work. Whether through sickness, disability or personal circumstances, there will always be some who simply need help to get through their daily lives.”

And we have seen that there is no care for people who cannot work. Once again, Damian Green has lied about society’s most vulnerable.

No wonder Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, described his words as “beyond ridiculous”.

Source: Tory minister says private firms should play a bigger role in the welfare system – Mirror Online

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Tories should check their own ranks before accusing Labour of infiltrating thinktanks

Double standards: Philippa Stroud, paid to advise Iain Duncan Smith on DWP policy issues, who was also paid by the right-wing thinktank the Centre for Social Justice to lobby him on the same policy issues.

Double standards: Philippa Stroud, paid to advise Iain Duncan Smith on DWP policy issues, who was also paid by the right-wing thinktank the Centre for Social Justice to lobby him on the same policy issues.

Department of Double Standards: According to the Telegraph, the left-wing Institute of Public Policy Research is being investigated by the Charity Commission because of its connections with the last Labour government.

The Torygraph reckons half of Gordon Brown’s special advisers now work for charities or “supposedly neutral” thinktanks, many of which now lobby the Coalition government.

“There is increasing concern among Conservatives that charities and thinktanks are being used as vehicles for a pro-Labour agenda,” the paper crowed.

On the face of it, it may seem reasonable for charities to be investigated for putting forward partisan opinions as they should remain politically neutral.

Thinktanks like the IPPR, on the other hand, are entirely free to put forward any political philosophy they choose; it’s part of their reason for existing.

But what about when a Conservative government minister actually employs, as his special adviser on policy, a person who is not only already an employee of a right-leaning government thinktank – set up by the minister himself – but actually co-founded it with him?

Step forward Philippa Stroud, who co-founded the Centre for Social Justice alongside Iain Duncan Smith in 2004, as a right-wing research and lobby group. When Mr… Smith became a government minister in 2010, he appointed her as his policy special adviser, even though she was still employed by the CSJ as co-chair of its ‘board of advisers’.

The special advisers’ code of conduct stipulates that they “should not receive benefits of any kind which others might reasonably see as compromising their personal judgment or integrity”.

An annex to the code, titled the Seven Principles of Public Life, adds: “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”

The code also makes clear that ministers making such appointments, in this case Mr… Smith himself, are held responsible for their advisers’ conduct.

So Philippa Stroud, a prominent member of the Conservative Party, took public money on top of her own salary and had a job as a senior member of a pressure group that tries to influence his department, when her role within that department was to give him advice on what to do.

That’s a conflict of interest, right there.

Oh, but the arrangement was cleared by the DWP and the Cabinet Office, both of which are currently headed by members of the Conservative Party, with no mention made of any conflict of interest they might have been enduring at the time.

Chris Grayling, writing in the Telegraph, claimed: “Britain’s professional campaigners are growing in number: sending emails around the country, flocking around Westminster, dominating BBC programmes, and usually articulating a Left-wing vision which is neither affordable nor deliverable – and wholly at odds with the long-term economic plan this Government has worked so hard to put in place.”

Sauce for the goose, Mr Grayling!

If it’s fine for a Conservative Party member and special adviser to Iain Duncan Smith to be employed by a thinktank that foists right-wing policy views on the government, then it should be perfectly acceptable for Labour Party members to be employed by thinktanks too.

In fact it is clear that the Labour members are committing the lesser of the two evils.

The moral: If you’re going to accuse your enemy of cheating, make sure you’re not doing it yourself.

Also: Chris Grayling is a fool.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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