The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, April 03, 2013


The parliamentary committee on communities and local government is experiencing some vague inklings of unease about the ongoing simplification (abolition, in Standard English) of the welfare state. Given that the process is being mastermindlessed by the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith, and is opposed by his frère et semblable Liam Duncan Byrne on the sole grounds that it doesn't kick the poor efficiently enough, it is surprising that the committee has taken until now to suspect that something might go wrong.

A spokesbeing from the Department of Workfare and Poverty has proclaimed that the new, simplified Universal Credit system will cut benefit fraud by two hundred million a year, and has expressed confidence that the relevant IT systems simply would hold up. As one would expect, this indicates that the new Universal Credit system will have trouble distinguishing between genuine and fraudulent claims and that the relevant IT systems are still at the development stage. The committee expressed concern about the Government's simplification (decimation, in Standard English) of the public sector, which could result in a dearth of local authority staff with the necessary experience to manage the change-over to the simplified system. There was even a quibble or two about the lack of clarity in the Government's definition of "vulnerable", which at worst might require the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith simply to shove through another bit of retroactive emergency legislation defining it as having been perfectly clear all along.

It is unlikely that the Government considers any of this a problem, having long since decided to spare itself the effort of distinguishing between genuine and fraudulent claims by simply labelling all claimants as shirkers, scroungers and idlers. Since all claims are fraudulent one way or another, it scarcely matters whether the IT system can detect the miscreants or not, provided simply that the provider's contract yields all the necessary ministerial kickbacks. Universal Credit is now being piloted in some lucky boroughs and will simply be implemented over the next few years whether the pilot schemes work or not.


  • At 2:08 pm , Blogger J Sewell McEvoy said...

    Brilliant post, Philip, you nailed it. I find it really difficult to articulate this kafka-esque nightmare to people.

    As a coincidence, to prove I'm not a bot here, I have to type the word randomly generated "word" - tusick.

  • At 8:41 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    I find it really difficult to articulate this kafka-esque nightmare

    That's the advantage of typed indignation - you're less likely to choke up in mid-flow.


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