Still waiting for A4e's accounts, but as one of our commenters points out, A4e has frequently been late filing its accounts in recent years. Perhaps of more immediate interest is the down-grading of its credit rating. But while we await developments there are the usual attempts by the DWP to hide its own incompetence. The news came out that there has been a blunder with the hated bedroom tax. Anyone who was on HB before 1996 and has been on it ever since should not be subject to the new legislation; they are covered by an older law which wasn't superseded by the new one. One estimate is that this applies to around 40,000 people, many of whom have already had to go through the misery of losing their home or trying to exist on less money. And I reckon that many of the people who have been on HB that long will be disabled or have long-term conditions. So the government intends to "close the loop-hole". It's not clear whether that will mean more retro-active legislation, or whether they can just sneak it through on a Statutory Instrument, which doesn't go through Parliament. Either way, why did those highly-paid civil service lawyers not spot this before?
The DWP tried to distract from this with news that the benefits cap is very successful. This is perhaps the most popular of all their bites at benefits, because it seems only fair that you shouldn't get more than many people can earn. But it obscures the fact that the bulk of the money goes to landlords, not the claimants, so if you live in an expensively-rented home and suddenly lose your job, you will lose your home as well; this is shown by the fact that the large majority of the boroughs where people have been affected are in London.
The row about Channel 4's Benefits Street rumbles on. The Daily Mail's contribution comes from John Bird, who is the founder of the Big Issue. It's typically confused. Bird thinks that the show tells the truth about benefits, and he's an expert, he says, because he came through dire poverty himself. Perhaps the worst example of right-wing hate-mongering came from Katie Hopkins on the BBC's This Week last night. Who's Katie Hopkins? Quite. Her only claim to fame is that she was on The Apprentice; she now writes for the Sun, and seems to have taken the place of Kelvin McKenzie as the nutter of choice for TV producers wanting to anger their viewers. (The Daily Star called her rent-a-gob.) Last night she called for more welfare cuts; directly insulted Diane Abbott MP, who showed remarkable restraint by not decking her; and said, "Food banks are a con." The rage about her on Facebook, most of it, I guess, not from benefits claimants, shows that we might just have reached a point where the general public is embarrassed by this continual demonisation of the poorest.
One bit of news about the DWP itself came from an unlikely source - the Telegraph. It revealed that more than 1,100 DWP staff have been warned over "prying" on benefits records. That's breaches of privacy, accessing records they had no right to see.
Finally, how's this for irony? "BBC misleads public every day on scale of cuts, fumes Cameron". Yes, it's the Daily Mail describing Cameron getting annoyed on Radio Merseyside when he as accused of treating Liverpool unfairly. No wonder the BBC has become so tepid in its journalism.