Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Iain Duncan Smith - true to form

I thought we might get an IDS-free day today, but still the media keep coming up with depressing pieces.  I've bookmarked so many that I can't possibly post links to them, and you wouldn't want to read them anyway.  When I listened to the interview yesterday on the Today programme, I was hoping that John Humphrys would challenge him over his misuse of figures - and he did.  But that brought the extraordinary conversation, recorded in the Huffington Post

  '"What they said was you can't absolutely prove that those two things are connected."  Challenged over the fact his statement was not supported by officials statistics published by his own department, Duncan Smith said: "Yes, but by the way, you can't disprove what I said either.  I believe that this to be right, I believe that we are already seeing people going back to work who were not going to go back to work," he said.  "I believe that this will show, as we move forward, that people who were not seeking work are now seeking work."'

Of course, lots of people picked that up and mocked it.  Another assertion, quickly picked up by the New Statesman, was that homelessness figures had "hardly moved".  Actually, homelessness in England is up by 27% since 2010.  The New Statesman published an excellent piece, "Five things Iain Duncan Smith doesn't want you to know about the benefit cap" - essential reading.
Something which went unchallenged was the assertion, or implication, that people can go out and get a job if they want one.
It was inevitable that the interview would result in a complaint from IDS about the BBC.  He said to Humphrys, "This is absurd. What you are doing, as always happens in the BBC, is seeking out lots of little cases from people who are politically motivated to say this is wrong.”
My final link is to a Steve Bell cartoon in the Guardian.

Labour had little to say.  And that's because they support the benefit cap, and know that a large majority of the electorate support it too.  No minds were changed yesterday, but what I found most worrying was that so many people on the ideological right were content to churn out statements which they know to be untrue or highly misleading.  
And the Tories feel that they're on a roll, and can put forward further "reforms".  We're hearing today about a reduction in the cap to £20k, if it's shown to "work"; stopping housing benefit to the under-25s; and denying housing to teenage single mothers.


  1. My understanding is about 40 thousand people are affected. Maybe these people who have moved into work because of the cap will come forward and speak to the press? I have heard a figure of 34 thousand pounds pay before stoppages mentioned. Perhaps they are Bankers...

    1. I agree with the New Statesman - if anyone HAS got work then they get working Tax Credits and possibly some Housing Benefit too. So they are better off in work but the official statistics don't back this up.

    2. Never occurred to me that Housing/Council Tax Benefit and any Working Tax Benefit are part of the 80 billion welfare spend. Wonder what the percentages are.

  2. "Something which went unchallenged was the assertion, or implication, that people can go out and get a job if they want one."

    Ah yes, the classic "get a job" mantra, always makes an MP sound like they know what they're talking about when in fact, they don't have a flippin' clue. One of these days, some of these MPs are going to be out of the job because the public has had enough of their useless comments. People can't simply "get a job" as jobs aren't like bottles of milk down your local shop, you can't just go get one as you please. In fact, getting a job is a lot like going to the shop to find that loads of people have panic-bought every essential item. If you have 20+ people panic-buying milk because the cows have finally gone home, then you're not going to be having your bowl of cereal the next morning. There, is that sufficiently "vegetarian" for you, H?!

    By the way, I'm looking for warehouse and cleaning jobs. If anyone has one they'd like to give me, I'd be eternally greatful. :P

  3. The tories have been pushing for the abolition of Housing Benefit for under 25's since they came into power in 2010. The agitation to remove the right of single mothers to Housing Benefit is also a familiar song.

    Frankly, as the age of majority in the UK is 18 I can't see how refusing to pay Housing Benefit to those under 25 will be legal under age discrimination legislation.

    As for refusing to pay housing benefit to single mothers if the women don't have any accommodation for their children, then social services will be obligated to take them into care. Putting a child into care for 16 years is going to be far more expensive than paying housing benefit.

    Of course when the child then leaves care, he or she won't qualify for housing benefit until they are 25 years of age.

    Ian Duncan-Smiths comments about not being to prove or disprove his beliefs about the effect of the benefit cap moving people into work is the best example yet of how decisions are being made effecting the lives of tens of thousands of people without any evidence to base them on.

    Most people wouldn't buy a washing machine without checking the specifications and the consumer reports first and yet this individual is making spending decisions that add up to billions, not millions, of pounds with less thought than the average person would use to buy a television set.

    Ian Duncan-Smith claims to have a degree and he doesn't; he claims to have post-graduate management qualifications and he doesn't; and he makes absurd statements about things he clearly knows nothing about.

    If you want to be a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant you are required to pass examinations and undergo a period of supervised training. It is high time that some sort of qualification was introduced before people are allowed to become ministers of state.

    1. Getting under 25 to move home? My partner(works and has 5 Children) has lived in a council house for the last 15 years,pays full rent most of the time.

      She is contracted as a cleaner for 18 hours a week but averages 26,Two hours here,3 hours there,4 boys and 1 girl in a three bedroom,kitchen and a living room,she has asked for a larger house but none were available,she manages,but now the 4 boys are out of school the Council have told her at least 2 of them need to move out as "It is to small for 6 people" and court action is a possibility,why was this not a problem when the 4 boys were living in 1 bedroom for the last 15 years?

    2. To the Gent who posted above about his Partner's boys. I believe they are classed as adults so the Law states they should all have a seperate bedroom each.

  4. 'A large majority of the electorate support it [the benefit cap]'.

    If this is true, and I have yet to see hard evidence to suggest that they do, then the Tories will use this support to continue to very gradually end ALL benefits. I have said many times on this blog on various posts that the Tories ultimate objective is to end the Welfare State and replace it with a right-wing, facist style corporate state.

    From here on toward the May 2015 General Election the Tories will very gradually 'challenge' various principles of the Welfare State; today it is welfare support for single parents, last week it was the principle of unemployment benefit (now denied to new claimants for seven days). Expect further attacks on JSA claims, expect further cuts to working tax credit (claims can now only be made if working MORE than 30 hours a week), expect cuts to the state pension.

    By the time of next election the British people should be in no doubt about the direction the Tories wish to take the country. If they win the next election or, more likely, continue in coalition with the Liberals the Welfare State will end, the principle of privatisation will be extended to EVERYTHING and big business will move in.

    Post-election expect increases in taxes (contary to their election campaign): VAT will increase to 22% and will be extended to food and clothes for the first time, fiscal drag will be extended (again) to PAYE income tax.

    The choice will be clear. Tax increases and continued support for the less well-off (Labour) or tax increases and the beginning of an era of poverty and misery (and violence) not seen the inter-war period(Tories).

    1. There are reputable polls which show that over 70% of the electorate support the cap.

    2. Living in Wales,I can't think of a single family, with the exception of a disabled couple that get anywhere near £26K,another ploy to convince the general Public that everybody is a scrounger?

      Does the Bedroom Tax apply to MP's second homes? I would think that they would only be allowed a 1 bedroom at the most!

    3. The One True Elg16 July 2013 at 20:34

      I suspect the reason they support the cap is because it's presented in such a way that people when told that claimants can get more than 26k, assume it's direct income. But actually the direct income of everyone except families with very high numbers of children is more like a few grand, with the rest being made up of housing benefit caused by inflated rent.

      The benefit cap is essentially about forcing people to move home and letting the free market dictate rent prices as opposed to the approach on the left which might be a cap on rent increases. Whether these things are right or wrong is debatable, I can understand the logic of the policy in this regard.

      What I think is completely wrong is the wilful misrepresentation of people receiving this much money by politicians and the media as people who are living at the means of the average earner when in the absolute vast majority of cases this cap applies to, that isn't the case at all.

  5. I hate to do nothing more than suggest links, but it's hot and these blogs / articles sum things up better than I could do myself anyway:

    http://alittleecon.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/benefit-cap-bullshit/ (apologies for the URL - nothing to do with me)


    And yes, polling suggests that a substantial majority of the public support the OBC, presumably due to a range of factors including media horror stories, DWP campaigning and genuine misunderstanding. This post touches on some of these factors:


    As part of a wider phenomenon:


    Depressing stuff really. As long as the public are indifferent to any kind of detailed analysis (about anything - not just social security) we have a problem.

    Looking on the bright side, the interview and the way it was almost instantly ridiculed and dissected in the media and blogosphere gave me a degree of reassurance that even if the formal opposition are ineffectual in challenging this nonsense, there's a powerful informal rapid rebuttal unit that could become quite effective with time.

  6. i know this will be unpopular, and probably not even published, but if this blogger wishes to provide some balance he will do so.

    i love the work programme. i had been out of work for 2 years before i was referred to a4e and found a job within 1 month of my first appointment.

    1. Great, we're all really pleased for you. And that's not sarcasm. Spare a thought for all those who haven't found a job.
      By the way, if you comment again please use the shift key.

    2. Anon, (16 July 2013 14:21) great news! However, ask yourself was A4e REALLY necessary?

      Do you not think the Jobcentre should have done this for you? After all, it's what they're supposedly set up to do.

    3. Anon (16July 2013 14:21)

      I would not say your post is unpopular, you are just one of the lucky ones who has been unemployed for a short amount of years compared to most of us, who have actually been recycled through the benefit system 3,4 even 5 times and sent on the same pointless back to work schemes and are still unemployed with no chance of finding a job due to the amount of years since we last worked.

    4. A prime example of Creaming and Parking,I am sure their is a good percentage of advisers on the WP that are just as frustrated as the participants, this would account for the high turnover of advisers.

      I am glad that you had a positive experience,as most of us on this Blog would of also liked to of had an outcome and found employment or training,Good luck in the future.

    5. The One True Elg17 July 2013 at 01:45

      I wish your experience was representative, but because it's provably not representative Historian has been plenty balanced.

    6. Sorry if this is off topic... Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh wamts to bring in a bill that would make access to public services dependant on being on the electoral roll. Apparantly at least 6 million people were not registered to vote in 2010.

    7. I haven't voted for many years, nor have I been on the electoral roll.. I don't like any of the parties.

    8. I would love to argue with you over this, Simone, because it's something I feel very strongly about. But this is probably not the forum to do it.

  7. historian

    'GPs in south east Wales told not to help benefit appeals'

    (more fodder for the WPs)

    1. It's okay, got it. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-23353623

    2. My only income is currently DLA - I was unable to win my ESA appeal. If in about 2 years time when PIP replaces DLA my doctor refused to write a letter about how my Glaucoma affects me I don't know what I would do.


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