Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Two verdicts on Universal Credit

Two programmes looked at UC last night (I had to catch up on both online this morning).

The first was a Channel 4 Dispatches programme.  Now, Channel 4 brought you Benefits Street, and the producers of that pernicious propaganda recently insisted that they wouldn't be "censored" and will go ahead with the next rotten slice; so could we trust the channel to do something truthful on UC?  Amazingly, yes.  Liz MacKean, a real journalist, went to Warrington earlier this year to look at how it was working.  They found four claimants, who could never be describes as scroungers, who had suffered problems and hardship because of mistakes, delays, confusion and poor staff training.  There were tales of the system not being able to cope with a change in circumstances; of the huge hike in rent arrears and debt.  A whistle-blower from a DWP service centre spoke of staff being overwhelmed by the workload.  Significantly, perhaps, it was Mark Harper, the newish minister for the disabled, who was put up to answer for all this.  He seems to be the new face of the DWP; Iain Duncan Smith and McVey are both, perhaps, seen as liabilities.  Harper talked blandly, of course; but there seemed no recognition that real people are suffering real harm as they "learn from their mistakes" at the DWP.

The second programme was a Radio 4 Analysis episode.  Most of it is summarised in the presenter's own piece in yesterday's Guardian.  Jonathan Portes used to work at the DWP so has an insider's view of what has gone on.  The radio programme was striving for "balance".  We got Kwasi Kwarteng, a Tory MP, making excuses for Duncan Smith.  Worse, we got a sizeable contribution from Fraser Nelson.  He's the editor of the Spectator, a small circulation right-wing magazine, and he also writes for the Telegraph, for which he has produced the most deluded tosh about "welfare reform".  He repeated it on the radio.  (For balance, Margaret Hodge told the truth.)  We got a damning description of the failures of IDS, in UC and in the Atos fiasco.  There was no mention of the dreadful damage that's been done to real people because of IDS's delusions, just a description of the financial costs.

Everyone except IDS seems now to agree that UC is a write-off, and will be ditched whoever is in power after May.

Harking back to yesterday's post, A4e have tweeted an apology.


  1. I am not pleased that Historian chose not to publish my own contribution to yesterdays blog about Mr Rogers. Do I have the impression that Historian wishes to suppress cooments that contradict Historian's own, subjective, views about things? A4e's staff in their Southampton WP office could NOT have been gentler, kinder or more helpful after I suddenly suffered a stroke during 2013.

    I watched the Ch4 programme criticising the Universal Cock-up scheme but the govt will get away with the Ch4 programe because the reporting was so biased. Surely to dog there is somebody in Wigan who has not experienced any problems because of the UC scheme?

    I didn't listen to R4 yesterday evening, I will try to find that on the iPlayer now.

    1. Two points:
      This blog is necessarily subjective. It's open to anyone to start their own blog, which will be equally subjective.
      There are times when I feel that comments are not relevant to the subject of the post, or are too confused to publish.

      I really don't understand your second paragraph here.

  2. How does sticking up for A4e fail to be relevant towards yesterday's blog about Mr Rogers? According to Mr Rogers, he had a terrible experience with A4e when he was lying in hozzy after a life-threatening heart attack. According to me, I had an excellent experience with A4e when I was lying in hozzy after an equally life-threatening stroke.

    To "clarify" my second paragraph, nobody is likely to believe biased reporting, Four people in Wigan have had a terrible time with UC. What do the other four, who have not had a similarly terrible time with UC, say about their own experience?

    The govt will win if its critics are woolly-minded. I would prefer not to encourage that.

    1. Four people in Warrington (not Wigan) were interviewed as representative of many who had reported similar problems. The CAB and the housing association confirmed this. Stats were produced on rent and council tax arrears. This was not, to my mind, biased reporting. Who are "the other four" you refer to?

    2. 'Nobody is likely to believe biased reporting'.

      If that were true we would not see the relentless persecution of the unemployed and immigrants in the press and the corresponding 'reforms' to benefits and the law, which can singularly be explained by the support such changes have with the public but which' of course, are based on lies and biased reporting.

      What, in fact, we need in the media are MORE biased programmes highlighting the negative effects of the Tories nasty benefit changes to balance the four and half years of continuous right-wing propaganda.

    3. And as if by magic here is the evidence to back up the above:



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