I was amused by the title of an article in an Australian journal - "Therese Rein the $1.4bn queen of British welfare". Sounds like there's been a coup! Rein is the wife of a former Australian Prime Minister. The article reports that, as owner of Ingeus, she stands to make a great deal of money. The firm won all seven contracts that it bid for, giving it 23% of the market, while A4e only has 13%. Concerns are reported: "Two failed bidders shown details of the winning bids said they believed Ingeus had discounted its prices by up to 50 per cent in some areas. Perhaps the company was banking on the economies of scale that would come from being the largest provider, or maybe even hoping that the government would later be forced to raise the promised payments."
The big story of the last few days has been the announcement, as part of the election campaign, of figures purporting to show that more than 80,000 people are claiming incapacity benefits for being addicts, alcoholics or obese. No mention was made of addicts who are not on IB but on the smaller JSA. And, of course, the reporting played into the hands of the Tories who want to appeal to the Mail and Express readership. Instead of sensible discussion we had the usual chat from experts.
Meanwhile, Emma Harrison has been in discussions at the Swedish Embassy and Mark Lovell has been to a meeting with the Local Government Association about crisis loans, debt and public service reform.