The Curmudgeon


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage Out

The Government's attempt to simplify the welfare system so far that even Iain Duncan Smith can understand it has suffered a bit of a setback. The introduction of the "universal credit" requires an IT system which will keep track of how much each claimant is earning in work and how much of their benefits the state can thereby claw back; but the Government's consultants have told it that the timetable is unrealistic. Duncan Smith wants to introduce the universal credit by late 2013, so that voters will have eighteen months to forget the associated cock-ups before the next election; but a report commissioned by his Department for Work and Pensions Withdrawal says that "while many [IT suppliers] felt that from a technology perspective the timescales appeared achievable, this came with heavy caveats". Some of these, such as the possibility that Duncan Smith may have risked saying the thing that was not with his claim that nobody will be worse off, will hardly be matters of concern for Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition; but others included the need for the new system to tie up with those run by HM Revenue and Customs; the fact that the precise specifications will not be clear until Parliament approves the bill; and, inevitably, the Thatcher factor ("there are no alternatives being prototyped"). A spokesbeing for Duncan Smith responded with, "Universal credit is on track and on time to secure a welfare state fit for the 21st century"; or, in Standard English, la la la la la la la.


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