Note: Since this piece was written, it is now being reported that even the trials mentioned are to be put off for 3 months. The state operative says they will take place in a “safe controlled environment”, which is to say they will not reflect reality in any recognisable form.
In terms of welfare “reform”, April is most notable for the introduction of the much discussed “Bedroom Tax”. A slew of other mean-minded, counter-productive and economically sub-literate policies will come in concurrently.
Less noted are the start of trials for Universal Credit.
To be introduced nationwide 6 months from now, (not to all claimants, but bringing in different types of claimants across a period of 2 to 3 years) this will be a single basic sum for those out of work, incorporating quite a few current benefits such as Housing Benefit.
The upside, to be loudly tumpeted, is that it will be simpler than the famously Byzantine system that has built up over generations.
But the government, with the usual implication that we are thick, is projecting the age old nonsense that “Yes Prime Minister” ran thus:
“Something must be done.” “This is something.” “Therefore we must do it.”
The downsides are many, and there will be months ahead to discuss them. They aren’t the main point of this piece, but a major challenge to note will be in the IT systems, and we have been here before. The grossly offensive National Identity Register (ID cards) and various NHS databases are among many schemes to have fallen by the wayside at a cost of billions (though not without profit to private contractors.) All these problems are always for-seen by computer experts, always fobbed off by politicians who are not experts. Universal Credit is no different. Contractors this time around include the roundly despised and inept, but highly profitable ATOS.
Who could head a department still ignoring glaring lessons of history, in favour of ill qualified personal ego and stupendous arrogance? Oh look, it’s the ever sponging Iain Duncan Smith!
Trials were set to be across 4 boroughs in the Greater Manchester. Clearly things are looking pickled and difficult. The sensible thing for a lying government is not to accept that a nationwide project may totally blow up in their face and thus re-think, but to limit the trials to just one borough instead, so screw-ups are less likely.
But why stop there? How about just doing it at one job centre, and to a seriously limited set of clients? (details at bottom)
So far, the BBC are reporting that it is going ahead as planned in just one borough. This is not true, they will not be as planned even for that one job centre in one borough.
It’s the sort of inaccurate, lazy journalism we have come to expect from the BBC. Why should this random amateur blogger know more about the subject than a supposed leader of global journalism? So far I have also heard apologists for the policy and trials gdt more airtime than opponents. That will probably continue.
The idea is that 6 months from now the Tories will say “it’s amazing, so much simpler now and there were no glitches”.
They seriously expect people to believe that a tiny trial in 1 place will reflect the success of a massive and complex operation across a whole country. At least The BBC will probably swallow it.
Aside from stating that the trials are utter drivel, and any assessment more flattering can only be on the part of a liar or someone deeply stupid, I close with a list of the conditions which customers of the Ashton under Lyne jobcentre have to meet in order to be put on the Universal Credit pilot.
It’s far from the last you’ve heard of this, but thanks for reading.
Trial subjects must:
– have a valid bank account and National Insurance Number.
– live in a specified postcode area but not be homeless, in supported or temporary accommodation or be a homeowner
– be single,
– have no dependent children,
– be a British citizen and aged between 18 years and 60 years and 6 months
– be fit for work
– not have a claim to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that ended in the last two weeks, except where ESA ended due to a decision that you no longer have limited capability for work
– not be pregnant or be within 15 weeks after the expected date of birth;
– not be receiving existing benefits (including Housing Benefit) or Tax Credits or awaiting a decision on, or be appealing against, a decision not to award any of those
– not be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
– have expected take home pay no higher than £270 per month (under 25s) or £330 per month (25 or over)
– and not have savings in excess of £6,000
– not have any caring responsibilities
– not be self-employed,
– not be in education
– not have to rely on an appointee (someone declared as a helper with claims in the case of mental impairment, language difficulties etc.)