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.