There's a blog post being circulated which I'm happy to pass on. You can read it all here, under the heading, "Just when you thought Iain Duncan Smith could not stoop any lower ...." There are a number of issues which arise from it. The most obvious is the tone of IDS's letter. Remember that he's writing to a constituent. But I'm also struck by the fact that this poor woman had to go to court to get what she was entitled to and, although she won her case, it wasn't enough. IDS or his department appealed against the decision twice, and are now appealing to get her sent out of the country. It's hard to know whether, or to what extent, Duncan Smith has any personal involvement in these decisions. But it suggests, once again, a culture of never taking no for an answer. If you don't like a ruling that says you're wrong, keep on appealing it; it's not your money you're spending, after all. And the rights and plight of the individual concerned are irrelevant.
You might also notice that IDS refers to the lady as a "customer" of his department. This is a very strange and inappropriate usage, but is perhaps indicative of his ability to put all transactions in commercial terms. If we really were "customers" we could demand a much better service or take our custom elsewhere.
I'm posting this because of another case of unforgivable delays which was highlighted on the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) this morning. A man who has terminal cancer has been left without his benefits for many months because of delays, untruths and sheer incompetence. Macmillan Cancer Support, the organisation which brought this case to light, says that many people are in this position. We were reminded that the average delay is about 9 weeks. Does that account for much of the growth in food bank usage? But the response from the DWP is as dismissive and arrogant as always, criticising Macmillan for exaggerating.
What possible excuse can there be for routinely leaving people destitute for months? Is it a deliberate ploy to deter people from claiming at all? Or is the intention to boost the profits of the pay-day lenders? Maybe it's part of the running-down of the department so that its functions can be outsourced.