Just 12 months ago, I wrote*
“…..word on the street is that Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reform programme is heading towards the rocks. If that results, he will be facing his own interview on the Work Programme in the near future.”
Clearly, I got something wrong. Iain Duncan Smith is still the responsible Secretary of State.
In fact, the government simply denied the evidence that was accumulating. Pilot programmes – meant to test proposals and identify unanticipated problems - were simply ditched in order to keep to timetable. Those of us asking challenging questions were just dismissed.
So, presumably, everything is all right with the government’s welfare reform agenda?
Make up your own mind:
- the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is descending into chaos, with key programmes behind schedule and over-budget.
- after spending £612 million, including £131 million written off or written down, the introduction of Universal Credit is now years behind schedule, with no clear plan for how, when, or whether full implementation will be achievable or represent value for money.
- the Work Capability Assessment process is in “virtual collapse”.
- the introduction of Personal Independence Payment has been described as “nothing short of a fiasco”.
- the Work Programme and Youth Contract have failed to meet their targets
- the unfair Bedroom Tax risks costing more than it saves,
- other related DWP programmes are performing poorly or in disarray
- the Minister of State for Disabled People admits that more than 700,000 people are still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment, and
- the Office for Budget Responsibility has found that projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance has risen by £812m, instead of falling.
So, everything’s all right then? Well, no.