Friday, 8 February 2013


That was Mark Hoban's response to the Public Accounts Committee's roasting of the DWP for the misery caused by Atos.  The BBC reports it straightforwardly.  Margaret Hodge put the blame on the DWP rather than on the company, saying that it regarded the appeals process as an inherent part of the system, when it was actually damaging vulnerable people.  Hoban replied that they'd failed to recognise that changes had been made and that independent reports said that the whole thing was fundamentally sound.  Mind you, according to a tweet by Jonty Olliff-Cooper, Hoban has described Jobcentres as "the last vestige of the command and control economy", so are we to expect that they will soon be handed over for private profit?  (JOC calls this comment "pretty fruity from a minister", which must be public school speak for something I don't understand.)

There's an excellent article by Zoe Williams in the Guardian yesterday, in which she describes the "shadow state" created by the outsourcing of public services.  I won't quote from it because you need to read the whole of it.  Last week another Guardian article by Toby Lowe described payment by results as "a dangerous idiocy that makes staff tell lies".  Again, spot on.  And if we needed any more practical examples of how things can go spectacularly wrong, there's the report from the Commons Justice Committee on the "shambolic" situation with court translation services (something Private Eye has been going on about for ages) and the Care Quality Commission's report into Serco's out-of-hours doctor service in Cornwall, which failed the sick by not having enough staff to answer calls.

But all of this is presumably just scaremongering.


  1. It seems that if a commitee disagrees with anything that involves the DWP/WP/DLA,ect it is just batted away,the "We know best" attitude seems to prevail.The figures released in November were pushed aside,because they did not contain the full picture and mere mortals could not possibly understnd the Big picture.When,not if,this programme fails to reach even the minimum targets in the near future,who if anybody will take the responsability?

    1. MKMKY:

      It's not just committee's, anyone who disagree's with the DWP (Iain Duncan Smith, Mark Hoban etc) must be wrong or a troublemaker or an anarchist because IDS and Hoban are never wrong are they.

      How much longer do we have to put up with these two idiot's before Cameron pulls the plug on them?

    2. The chance that the plug will ever be pulled is slim,"They are all in this together" if one fails the whole house of cards will fall,conspiracy theory?brain gravy?

  2. Mark Hoban is just another here today gone tomorrow politician. It makes no difference whether he is in the role or any other faceless ideologue to be honest.

    Of course he has to defend the likes of Atos. It is in the governments nature to do so. More tellingly, it is they way they defend such deficiencies.

    If you disagree your views are dismissed. You are at first ignored. Then you are called a scrounger. You are called an embellisher. You are called a scaremonger. You even are branded an extremist. I know attack can be he best form of defence, but this is ridiculous! It shows govt ministers are on the back foot in all their main arguments.

    The Zoe Williams article is pretty good. I read it a couple of days ago and left comments. The outsourcing of public services is supposed to create lower costs and 'efficiency' savings. The reality is lower costs are only achieved through offering lower wages, poorer facilities and a generally worse service. In the long run, the public ends up paying more. And not just financially.

  3. Vive la revolution!8 February 2013 at 07:04

    Hoban's aggressive response to the obvious being pointed out does not surprise me at all- he would rather argue that black is white than agree that the tories' policies on welfare are failing.

    1. I never thought I'd write this, but amongst people who know both, Grayling is more highly regarded. CG is an ideologue who is hell bent on exporting his questionable ideas of delivery and procurement to MoJ, but he does, on occasion, listen. Hoban shows none of that.

      Of course the rumour at his appointment was that he was there as the Treasury minder, keeping an eye on IDS. There may be something to that. He's certainly on top of his brief in terms of detail, but there's nothing that he's said or done that suggests much in the way of drive, imagination or empathy. Not a constructive personality.

  4. Reminds me of the interview that Emma Harrison had with channel 4 "I do not recognise those numbers" next he will be saying he is being bullied by the PAC and they are distorting his words.

  5. I don’t know how anyone can take JOC seriously. Three hours ago, he twittered, “Fascinating day with DWP staff in our Doncaster office. Sat in on class teaching people to wash and use loo paper.” Someone else twittered back, asking JOC whether this class had been held for the staff? JOC replied that, “Some of our customers had not been using loo paper at all. Obviously they need to if they want to get through interviews.”

    I am tempted to join in with this inane twittering, to ask whether it is customary for employers in Doncaster to interview potential employees in the loo?

  6. I bet Chris Graying is glad he's no longer with the DWP club!

  7. has anybody seen Jonty Ollif-Cooper's twitter today? After tweeting that he had been observing jobseekers in A4E's Doncaster office earlier in the week, one twitter user asked him- '@JontyOC so what have they been doing with toilet paper.. and that will help them get a job?'

    Mr Cooper responded with the following tweet-

    'Some of the customers had not been using loo paper at all. Obviously they need to if they want to get through interviews'

    I don't think I need to say anything about how this man views jobseekers. DISGRACEFUL.

    1. Thanks for yours and Judi's report of this. I hadn't seen this. Yes, disgraceful. Perhaps we should ask the A4e bosses whether this does anything to help persuade employers to take on their clients. Idiot.

    2. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I took a print-screen of it so when he inevitably deletes it, he won't be able to claim it never existed.

    3. Toilet paper - what toilet paper?

      There's never any in the loo's at my Private Provider.

    4. Off subject I know but:
      Verdict on Government’s “Back to Work” schemes will be handed down on Tuesday 12 February 2013 at 10 am at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand.

    5. If anybody tried to force me to sit through a lesson on how to wash and use toilet paper I would walk out. If I was sanctioned I would immediately appeal. Surely, this is amounts to harassment?

    6. If anyone REALLY needs lessons on how to wash themselves and use toilet paper, then lack of employment is surely the least of thier worries!

  8. To the Anonymous who sent me a comment about an agreement with A4e - can you send me a NFP comment with your email address, please. I would like to answer you privately.

  9. The PAC’s recent report about Atos and the DWP is below:

    It seems that the PAC were asked not to take oral evidence from Atos. The two transcripts of the oral evidence sessions are towards the end of the PAC’s Report. Margaret Hodge warned the DWP that if the PAC decided that they wanted to hear from Atos then Atos would be summoned to give evidence and that would be that. Good for lady Hodge.

    I have only ever claimed JSA, so I have no personal experience of the Atos/DWP procedures when people have been claiming IB or ESA. All that I have heard about them is a few snippets from a friend who has been claiming ESA.

    The whole process sounds bizarre and I think the main problem probably does lie in the contractual arrangements between the DWP and Atos rather than with Atos themselves. Atos are only doing what theur DWP contract tells them to do, so the DWP are the ones to blame for the absurd situation.

    Atos are supposed to have hired suitably trained “medical experts.” To me, that sounds like a GP or a specialist in a particular branch of medicine. Doctors get a very broad education about the workings of the human body, so one can trust one’s own GP to make an accurate assessment of one’s symptoms, reach an accurate suspicion about what is probably wrong, to send one to a suitable specialist if necessary and then it is up to the GP again to understand and to explain, in layman’s terms, the technical medical jargon provided by the specialist to the GP.

    It seems that Atos have been instructed not to consider any of the claimant’s own medical reports if the claimant is claiming IB or ESA. Apparently it is up to the DWP’s Decision Makers alone to consider the medical evidence in the light of whatever Atos have said. Are these DWP DMs doctors? If not then how can they possibly understand any of this properly?

    The DWP seem to have told the PAC that numerous lengthy appeals are an inevitable part of the “process” and the DWP do not seem to be bothered about either the costs of the appeals or the distress that they cause to medically disadvantaged claimants of IB or ESA. That idea is off the bluddy wall and the PAC have been quite right to accuse the DWP of “complacency.”

    There was an absurd section in the relevant transcript where Devereux of the DWP wittered about his own part in “commercial negotiations.” That bloke is a career civil servant. He’s never seen a genuine “commercial negotiation” let alone having been involved with one.

    Devereux used to run the Department for Transport until sometime in 2011. Look what a mess his old Department made of their supposedly “commercial” negotiations with Richard Branson. Their “commercial” brilliance is likely to cost the taxpayer £50 million in compensation to the bidders for the train contracts.

    These Atos-type contracts need to be scrapped so that they can be re-written properly by people who actually know how to conduct commercial negotiations and who are not too stupid to take competent medical advice about what provisions need to go into the new contracts, it seems to me.

    The whole thing is a complete dogs breakfast at the bureaucratic end and the real victims are some of the most vulnerable people in society – the medically disadvantaged.

    As for Hoban and his allegations of “scaremongering,” I’d tell him to sit in a corner, shut up and make copious notes on the roll of loo paper that Jonty Olliff-Cooper of A4E will be delighted to provide. (My thanks to Anonymouse, who took the trouble to explain, elsewhere, what bogrolls are actually for.)


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