Thursday, 7 November 2013

It wasn't me, it was him

The Public Accounts Committee has published its report on Universal Credit.  It's pretty damning.  There's a comprehensive account in the Guardian.  Since then, there has been a concerted attempt by Conservative MPs to place the blame squarely on Robert Devereux, the Permanent Secretary at the DWP and the accounting officer for the project.
The Times said this morning that Iain Duncan Smith had tried to get Tory members of the committee to blame Devereux.  That's been denied.  The report doesn't blame individuals, but Margaret Hodge said this morning that the responsibility was from the top down.  Since then I've heard three different Tories blame the civil servants.  Francis Maude was driven to explicitly exonerating IDS.  He commissioned the review in 2012, says Maude, which identified the problems; and he described him as "visionary".
Whatever happened to ministerial accountability?  Younger readers won't be aware that there was a time when the ministers took responsibility and resigned even when the disaster clearly wasn't their fault.  Not now.  But if Devereux does go, he will be free to speak.  That might worry Duncan Smith.
Many people have asked why IDS is still in his job.  Surely his track record should have got him reshuffled to the back benches ages ago.  My feeling is that IDS is so hated, so much the focus of people's anger at the cruelty of the welfare "reforms", that it's better for Cameron to leave him in place and let him soak it all up than to put someone else in the firing line.


  1. There are many articles regarding IDS,even the usual supporters are admitting that he is incompetent,but nobody yet has pointed out the untold misery that he has caused tens of thousands because regardless of hard facts "I Believe" is his answer for everything.

  2. I attended a work programme appointment recently. The staff member I saw, stated that one in four of the people he sees find work; this is a success - apparently. I wondered if he understood that one in four is a quarter and that means that three quarters, or three out of four don't find employment. I pondered pointing out that 75% of his clients, don't find work; I thought it wiser not to.

    During the meeting he asked me two questions: "are you comfortable on JSA," and later on in the meeting, "do you like working." Obviously, I felt insulted by his remarks.

    At the next meeting with this work programme adviser, I am only going to talk about what applications I have submitted, and CV's I have sent off. I will refuse to "engage" with anything else and just say I am only there to discuss job applications and I am not discussing or commenting on anything else.

    As for IDS? I don't know how somebody like him can get into the Cabinet. I don't like Osborne or Cameron, but they did go to Oxford, pass their exams and graduate, so by definition they are educated men.

    Maybe keeping IDS in the Cabinet is a sop to the Eurosceptic group, but having said that surely, Cameron can find somebody who is educated and has a little common sense - after all there are so many going to university nowadays, you even hear of geology grads who are reduced to working in Poundland.

  3. How does Smith keep his job? Perhaps it's a phenomenon known as 'The Peter Principle'. Where someone is promoted BEYOND his or her natural ability. Which in Smith's case must be pretty damn low!

    Another theory. It's better to have a b*****d inside the tent peeing out that a b******d outside the tent peeing in. On this notion, Cameron is worried about Smith doing a Geoffrey Howe, Norman Lamont or Anne Widdicome whose resignation speeches did much damage to Thatcher, Major and Howard respectively.

    We have probably the worst political class in a generation if not two. It appears today's politics is shaped by public opinion, where public opinion is in turn shaped by shady and unaccountable media interests.

    Smith is not fit to run a bath let alone a government department. He offers no real answers for his decisions and passes the buck at every opportunity. Each day that goes by convinces me that he is a dangerous individual and only by losing his job in the most public and humiliating fashion will he even begin to understand why he is vilified so.

  4. If Cameron continues to back Smith then he must also take responsibility for its failures -

  5. It seems to me that “somebody” has kicked up a huge sandstorm today – probably deliberately, I suspect. But who is my suspect “somebody?” Robert Devereux of the DWP, perhaps? If he is my suspect then is he descended from that other Robert Devereux who was beheaded for treason in 1601?,_2nd_Earl_of_Essex

    Regrettably, Wiki does not reveal.

    That said, if I were seriously interested then I could always look in Debretts and/or Burkes Peerage….

    However, wasn’t Philip Hammond (now the Defence Secretay) i/c the Dept for Transport in 2010/2011? Or was it merely a coincidence that Leigh Lewis retired from the DWP in 2011?

    It must be said that today’s sandstorm has distracted the media & the pollies all day with all the tittle-tattle about whether or not the Tories want to hang Devereux of the DWP out to dry.

    Sir Humphrey Appleby was very good at protecting his own, I recall, including that gormless character Bernard Woolley.

    1. I also thought of that other Robert Devereux.

    2. Came up in an interview in Civil Service World some time ago, and the answer was that he isn't related, as far as he knows.

    3. Many thanks, Badger & Historian. I see that Mr Devereux of the DWP was interviewed for Civil Service World during the Spring of 2011, before any of his own and/or IDS’ new policy inventions were more than two bricks off the ground…..

      Ahhhhh. How heady and exciting it all must have seemed to the pair of them back then. Before everything went so badly wrong for them both, with hostility, criticism and costly litigation coming out of their ears, as is the case in the reality in Autumn 2013.

  6. Just a quick note of thanks,the last 2 a JCP appointments have been hell,new clerks(hit squad?) twice a sanction was raised and twice I had it dismissed as I was prepared,I am now back with my regular adviser and she does not believe in sanctions for the sake of sanctions(she is retiring shortly) as she said "they have given up trying to catch you out as you are well informed" if it was not for sites like this and others I would of had no clue,Thanks!

  7. On the Indus Delta website,there are many of the WP Providers asking for partners to help place the unemployed in the post WP new contract,they have supposed to have been doing this for the last 2+ years and failed,yet they are being awarded more contracts that they want to sub out....WTF? A friend was recently laid off,went to the JCP to sign on and within 4 days was attending a SIA course(good for him) after 2 years on the WP they have offered nothing,have I missed something here?


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