The "Nudge Unit" is in the news today. This is more properly known as the "Behavioural Insights Team" and exists to "nudge" people into making "better life choices". I'm putting that in inverted commas because the more cynical among us might describe such a project differently. One of the tasks they took on in recent months was to work with a group of unemployed people. What they came up with was spectacularly obvious, and they released the news of its success three times before anyone took any notice.
On Tuesday we learned that this team have been inflicting a psychometric test on the unemployed - a test you can find here. The Guardian describes it as bogus because users found that they could click repeatedly on the same answer and get the same results as someone who clicked repeatedly on the opposite answer. Jobseekers have been threatened with sanctions by the DWP for not completing it, but then the DWP denied that anyone would be stripped of benefits. The BBC also reported what Labour called "mumbo-jumbo" tests.
Now we hear that the unit is to become part of what the Independent calls "the great civil service sell-off". It's to be "mutualised" - ownership will be around 25% government, 25% employees and 50% private companies, which will bid for the privilege. Eventually up to 75,000 civil servants in a variety of sectors will be transferred into the private sector. This will enable the government to claim that they have presided over the creation of all those new private sector jobs. They are putting a completely different spin on it, of course, whilst admitting privately that it avoids the problems of "naked privatisation".
Universal Credit got off to a nervous start. The Guardian pointed out that the first page of the application contains a spelling mistake - "seperating".