You probably missed this. Only readers of the Guardian and the Independent got to know about a damning indictment of Iain Duncan Smith's massive failure, Universal Credit. The news was sneaked out at the weekend when attention was elsewhere. (Not that the BBC would have mentioned it anyway.) The government has a body called the Major Projects Authority which monitors progress on big, expensive schemes. It then codes them as green, amber or red, the last being for something that is “unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget without urgent remedial action”. And that was the code it was going to give to Universal Credit, a step down on last year. But, according to the Independent, IDS managed to stop it. Instead UC has been excluded from the list altogether on the grounds that it has been "reset" since February. Clever, eh? Our friend the DWP spokesman, wearily having to defend the move, just trotted out the stuff he knows no one believes: "The reality is that universal credit is already making work pay as we roll it out in a careful and controlled way. It's already operating in 10 areas and will start expanding to the rest of the north-west in June. Jobseekers in other areas are already benefiting from some of its positive impacts through help from a work coach, more digital facilities in jobcentres, and a written agreement setting out what they will do to find work." Notice how that last bit has nothing to do with UC.
Duncan Smith's habit of refusing to tell his employers (us) anything which reflects badly on him, or which we might not like, is now ingrained. He told the Work & Pensions select committee that he didn't have to tell them everything because he ran the department, not them. He has refused a court order to publish the list of organisations involved in workfare. Meanwhile, the latest Work Programme Official Statistics document was very quietly put out, with no one taking much notice. (It's here if you're interested.) The success rate has gone down a bit. Since it started, around 19% of its alumni have got a job, but for at least a third of those it was only temporary work. It's the number of ESA people, they claim, which is bringing the outcome rate down. (A4e scores just under the average for outcomes at 12 months.) It's another huge slab of wasted money; and more follows it into the pockets of the corporates as "Help to Work" gets under way.
But with the elections over IDS can face the public with a message his favourite papers have made a big deal out of; that they're planning a "crackdown" to limit immigrants' benefits even further. Except that not many immigrants claim benefits anyway.