Monday, 14 October 2013

A new way with figures

I heard an item on the lunchtime news programme which had me laughing in disbelief.  One of the housing associations came up with figures to show that the bedroom tax was not raising the sort of money the DWP insisted it would, because people are moving to the private rented where rents (and therefore housing benefit) are higher, rather than paying the tax and staying where they are.  They got a university department to go through the figures and produce a report.  The university confirmed it.  So today Esther McVey, the new minister, was interviewed about this.  Her response?  To rubbish the report as not true because it was based on figures provided by an organisation which had a financial interest.  The interviewer, clearly gob-smacked, pressed her.  What was not true?  All she could say was that the DWP had modelled all this before it was put in place.  But what was not true?  She repeated the canard that the housing association had a financial interest in providing false figures.  She's obviously settling in fast and absorbing the culture of the DWP.  When the figures come from government, distort them, lie about them or just refuse to publish them; if they come from outside government, say they're lies.  Brilliant!

The Indymedia website carries an article which confirms that A4e is putting in a bid for the Transforming Rehabilitation contracts, effectively privatising the probation service.  It's not a surprise.  They need contracts to survive.  But the model is the same as that of the Work Programme; payment by results with a three-tier structure of primes and sub-contractors.  We'll see whether A4e makes it through the PQQ stage, but there's no reason to think they won't.

PS:  Here's the Independent's take on the housing report and a comment from McVey.  This one is a little different but no more sensible.


  1. The majority of people assigned to the WP had figured out that it was a non starter after a few weeks,their were the normal excuses about growing pains and time needed for the figures to catch up(lag time) and all would be fine,then the figures were delayed and manipulated, after the latest release it was blamed on economic conditions (although this is not an acceptable excuse for the unemployed) and the same can be said for the "Bedroom Tax" in my area 3 bed council houses are boarded up,private rents have risen,where a private 1 bed costs more than a 3 bed council house,yet again a hair brained idea to boost some idiots political career that results in misery for many and a bill for the taxpayer.

  2. As soon as I heard about the bedroom tax I said it should be means tested rather than lump everyone in the same group. I have to pay towards rent & council tax, but if I moved to a 1 bedroom private home, my rent would be higher than my current 2 bedroom council home, so the government would be paying out more housing benefit for me. I can't believe they didn't anticipate this would happen.

  3. The longer I live: the more I hear about government manipulation; the more I despair.

    Move over Alice, make room, is there room down that rabbit hole for me?

  4. Esther McVey is a piece of work isn't she?

    Suppose I were to say she and her predecessors have a financial interest in keeping failing schemes like the WP ticking over due to the fact that some of them end up working for the very providers running them?

    The Bedroom Tax findings are simply what many people said would happen long before its introduction.

    Similarly, the EU today says there is no evidence of so called 'Benefit Tourism'. Brussels has said that it has asked the British government for THREE YEARS to come up with evidence to suggest benefit tourism is happening in Britain. To date the government has been unable to do so. Despite disagreeing with the EU on the matter.

    No 10 said there was "widespread and understandable concern" over people coming to the UK to access benefits. In other words, unsubstantiated stories, rumours and fear mongering.

    This from the BBC News site:

    "Some newspapers have noted that the report shows that there are more than 600,000 "non-active" EU migrants in the UK - describing them as "unemployed".

    But the Commission said this figure included older schoolchildren, students, the spouses of migrant workers, and retired people."

    In full here:

    What this all shows are the desperate, ludicrous and quite frankly shameless lengths this rotten government goes to in defending its combination of poor performances and mistruths.

  5. great news about A4e bidding to run the probation service.

    That means when they refer the unemployed for sanctions for some imagined misdemeanor therefore leaving them destitute and they are reduced to shoplifting a sandwich, A4e can 'refer' them to prison.... where A4e also run various pointless 'education' courses that are, you guessed it, MANDATORY.

    And G4S can even drive the prison van!

    Now that's what I call a tailored service....

  6. I agree with Helen’s comment. The rent on my two bedrrom Housing Association flat is £350 a month. I know a woman named “Karen” (not her real name) who is a single mum and who wants a two bedroom house or flat somewhere near here for for herself and her son. The local authority told her that she would have to find a private rental but that they would contribute £650 a month towards her rent by way of Local Housing Allowance.

    One of the two bedroom flats on the same housing estate as me was sold to the then tenant some years ago. It now belongs to the mother of “Bloggs” (not his real name) who bought it as an investment, so Bloggs told me when he lived there for a while. That flat was being offered for rent at the same time that Karen was looking and would have suited her perfectly because her own mother is my next door neighbour. Karen told me that the estate agents had told her that the landlord of the other flat was asking £695 per month rent, so she had dropped a note through its letter box explaining that she would only be able to offer £650 per month.

    I asked Karen whether she knows Bloggs but she said she didn’t. I explained that I have no idea about his mother but I do know that Bloggs is a regular in the only pub in this village, which Karen is also keen on visiting regularly. I suggested that she should go to the pub, find Bloggs and see whether he could intercede with his mother. I have no idea whether Karen found Bloggs but I do know that someone else now rents his mother’s flat.

    Karen is not capable of earning much money because she has no skills and no qualifications. Instead, she became pregnant when she was 17, I gather. She was working as a cleaner for 16 hours pw because that entitled her to claim Working Tax Credit.
    However, the cleaning contractor then cut Karen’s hours, so the local JCP suggested that she should move to JSA instead, since they could no longer give her any WTC.

    The idea of paying £300 more for a private rent than my own rent costs is not “fair” to the taxpayer. It also acts as a disincentive for Karen. She would have to work for 50 or 60 hours pw at the NMW to be able to afford a private rent of £700 per month, plus the Council Tax etc.

    It seems to me that IDS is shooting all three of himself, Karen and the taxpayer through the foot with his “Welfare Reform” schemes The figures do not stack up, regardless of the delusional nonsense that IDS claims to believe.

  7. After the Tory party conference and the beating that the unemployed took (which I will NEVER forget whenever there is a General Election) I have come to the conclusion that there is no logic to the Tories argument on ANY policy and it is a waste of energy attempting to understand it. Their motivation is not one of fairness but is being driven purely by a right-wing agenda to convince middle-class Britain they do not need the welfare state.

  8. Interesting article "Volunteering isn't free" according to it,the cost related to letting a person volunteer(forced or otherwise} is £174 for 10 days and they want to be reimbursed from the DWP{?} this will cost more than a person on JSA and still not result in a qualification or a actual job,let alone the cost of what is the point?

    1. Sick of the Work Programme15 October 2013 at 12:17

      Here is a link to the article you have mentioned:

    2. It's true, yes. The organization I volunteer with has to pay for first aid and H&S training, plus refunding travel expenses.

      But the article is talking about Natural England, which is similar to what I do (therefore same requirements) and isn't the same as for example the British Heart Foundation which is unlikely to require all their volunteers to have first aid skills

  9. Has anybody heard anything about the A4E employees charged with fraud? I thought the case was to heard on 14 Oct.

    1. No, but if that was the court date it doesn't mean that a trial was started and finished then.

    2. The prosecution of the ex-A4E staff has probably been remanded up to the Crown Court. I am not sure whether magistrates have jurisdiction to deal with allegations of forgery, for example

      In the Crown Court, the defendants would receive a trial by jury. If the defendants have to admit forgery, for instance, they would probably want to blame the appalling culture of the W2W industry generally and the culture within A4E in particular. It is very unlikely that any of the defendants would have realized that essentially innocenty-meant actions by them might have such serious consequences for them.

      Additionally, A4E itself - their erstwhile employer – allegedly blew the whistle on them by “shopping” them to the DWP. Why were A4E’s management systems so ropey that A4E allegedly failed to put a firm stop to this sort of conduct before it could ever get off the ground? Why was the DWP’s Quality Assurance so hopeless that the DWP did not spot any of the alleged irregularities by themselves?

      Peer groups – which is what a jury is – can be very sympathetic to defendants. Lay-magistrates tend to believe allegations by the prosecution only and to dismiss defendants as “making excuses” but the average juror is often less gullible and more fair-minded.

    3. I'm not sure that we should be discussing the details of this, but your penultimate paragraph is misguided. The old system of claiming job outcomes was vulnerable to forgery, but the audit process could uncover it. In this case, it seems that A4e's own audit process uncovered it, and that would have kicked in before the DWP did their own audit.

    4. Just grabbed this off Hansard. McVey and IDS answering questions in the Commons on the WP, benefits and welfare etc etc on the 14th:

      It is grim reading and if you are unemployed you will be left frustrated and angry.

      What is noticable is the evasion by McVey (especially) and IDS to EVERY question put to them by Labour e.g. a Labour MP questions the success of the WP in getting the long-term back into employment. McVey ignores the question and answers an entirely different one replying that under the Tory govt the unemployed figure has fallen - ignoring the fact that the figure for the long-term unemployed has increased!


      Perhaps, more worrying is IDS suggestion that jobseekers who refuse a zero-hour contract will be sanctioned (entry 900410).

      The implications of this are horrendous because under the Tories you cannot claim working-tax credit unless you are working MORE than 30hours a week.


    5. And where these jobs? UJM has a plethora of self employed jobs,under 16 hour jobs and multiple repeats of jobs that have been on there for 12 Months plus,somebody is screwing the family cat,even a layman can figure it out,have IDS and his Ilk ever looked at the positions posted on UJM?

    6. In response to Anonymous at 07.58.
      I note that IDS now seems to be saying that jobseekers who refuse a zero hour contract will be subject to sanctions. Clearly the man is either disingenuous, incompetent or both since this is in clear conflict with advice given by his department (The DWP) in response to a FOI request on the 10th July 2013

      I quote:
      "Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are not required to apply for zero hours contract vacancies and they will not face sanctions for turning down the offer of a zero hours contract."
      The terms "elbow" and "****" leap to mind.

    7. Thanks for that info Gissajob.

      Clearly then, as you say, IDS has either ignored or forgotten his own depts advice!

      I posted earlier that its pointless trying to make sense off the Tories policies as they seem to contradict each other. I would also add that I think a lot of it is posturing, esp. on benefits.

      I have been reading in the Guardian that charities are worried about the implications for them of Workfare and has asked the govt to clarify that claimaints will not be forced to work in the sector and that the threat of sanctions is removed.

      What they would like to do and what they will be able to do practically and legally are two different things.


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