I heard an item on the lunchtime news programme which had me laughing in disbelief. One of the housing associations came up with figures to show that the bedroom tax was not raising the sort of money the DWP insisted it would, because people are moving to the private rented where rents (and therefore housing benefit) are higher, rather than paying the tax and staying where they are. They got a university department to go through the figures and produce a report. The university confirmed it. So today Esther McVey, the new minister, was interviewed about this. Her response? To rubbish the report as not true because it was based on figures provided by an organisation which had a financial interest. The interviewer, clearly gob-smacked, pressed her. What was not true? All she could say was that the DWP had modelled all this before it was put in place. But what was not true? She repeated the canard that the housing association had a financial interest in providing false figures. She's obviously settling in fast and absorbing the culture of the DWP. When the figures come from government, distort them, lie about them or just refuse to publish them; if they come from outside government, say they're lies. Brilliant!
The Indymedia website carries an article which confirms that A4e is putting in a bid for the Transforming Rehabilitation contracts, effectively privatising the probation service. It's not a surprise. They need contracts to survive. But the model is the same as that of the Work Programme; payment by results with a three-tier structure of primes and sub-contractors. We'll see whether A4e makes it through the PQQ stage, but there's no reason to think they won't.
PS: Here's the Independent's take on the housing report and a comment from McVey. This one is a little different but no more sensible.