Of course, Iain Duncan Smith tells a great success story. For example, there’s the lie acoount of his education and qualifications, as stated in his biography on the Conservative Party website, his entry in Who’s Who, and various other places, which make the claim that he went to the Universita di Perugia in Italy. Unfortunately, Mr Duncan Smith’s office has been forced to explain to Newsnight researchers investigating his academic background that he didn’t get any qualifications in Perugia, or even finish his exams. His statements about the qualifications are simply examples of his remarkable superpowers.It was also claimed that he was “educated at Dunchurch College of Management”. In fact, Dunchurch was the former staff college for GEC Marconi, for whom he worked in the 1980s. Mr Duncan Smith’s office was forced to admit said that that he did not get any qualifications there either, but that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total. See what I mean? Extraordinary superpowers! (See Newsnight reveals ‘inaccuracies’ in Iain Duncan Smith’s CV ). It’s easy to see why Mr Duncan Smith has made it his very own superpower campaign to “monitor” the BBC for “left-wing bias.”
#GE2015 Indictment Against Tory Party That They Did Wilfully & With Malice Aforethought Cruelly Abandon People to Languish on Incapacity Benefit
I am writing this blog post in response to the War On Welfare debate in the House of Commons on Thursday 27th February.
May I make a confession? I helped put people in a position where they, through no fault of their own were left to languish on Incapacity Benefit. Why did I do this?
I was for most of the time, between November 1987 and November 1997 an Employment Service Adviser in Birmingham. During the Major Government, I was encouraged (though not in the way that Jobcentre staff are today) to help reduce the unemployment figures by helping people:
· into work
· into self employment
· or to claim another benefit, other than Jobseeker’s Allowance (and its predecessors) so that in doing so they would be removed from the unemployment figures.
All three outputs were of equal weight when the monthly Adviser team statistics were produced. I stress that there were no targets that were rigidly enforced. At most, if outputs fell below expectations one might get a stern talking to, either as an individual or as part of a team. However, we would often respond to such wiggings by pointing out that the nature of our client (not customer, not claimant) register, the state of the labour market and related matters meant that we could not meet national and local expectations.
To return to IB, we saw during the Major Government a significant proportion of people who were unwell, to say the least. It was, therefore, right for us to consider whether their health meant that they were not in a position to be available for and actively seeking work, the two fundamental conditions for receiving unemployment benefit. Many of this group, but not all, could not, with the best will in the world be considered to be available for and actively seeking work. Some when they came to see us already had a sick note. Others had been told by their doctor that they would not give them a sick note, because what would be the point? They were already on benefit.
ESA, Broken Beyond Repair? A Suggested Framework for a Wholesale Overhaul
I think the Labour Party needs to seriously ask itself how a social security reform that attracted widespread support at its inception has reached its current nadir. My party needs to recognise that the process is broken beyond repair. And that no tinkering with it will make it function both effectively and humanely.
I am not going to speak about the damage the current process has caused and is still causing. There are many people better placed than I to describe the emotional and financial distress resulting out of the system as it is today.
That Osborne thinks it is acceptable to cut the lifeline benefits of sick and disabled people to pay for government failures, whilst offering significant cuts to corporation tax rates; raising the tax-free personal allowance and extending inheritance tax relief demonstrates very clearly that the myth of trickle-down is still driving New Right Conservative ideology, and that policy is not based on material socio-economic conditions and public need. (And Cameron is not a one-nation Tory, despite his claims.)Research by the Tax Justice Network in 2012 indicates that wealth of the very wealthy does not trickle down to improve the economy, but tends to be amassed and sheltered in tax havens with a detrimental effect on the tax bases of the home economy.
New post on Politics and Insights .
It’s the design of Universal Credit and not the delivery that presents the biggest concern: from striking to altercasting by kittysjones
Universal credit was originally conceived as a positive facet of the otherwise draconian Tory welfare “reforms.” Designed to simplify the benefit system, introducing more flexibilty, and to ensure that benefit claimants were “always better off in work” – by removing “disincentives” to employment.Of course, in tandem to this are the much more punitive, coercive and cost-cutting policies – cuts to disability benefits, the introduction of an overall benefit cap and the rapidly increasing use of sanctions, as a key part of a stringent conditionality regime. Such policies are perverse, given the reasons why the welfare state evolved originally. You have to wonder how the Conservatives have avoided the criticism levelled at the Thatcher government of the 1980s: that it sacrificed and condemned millions to waste away and mortify on benefits as a “price worth paying” for economic recovery. After all, Cameron’s government are still sacrificing those with the least, no matter how much he enlists the support of the media in constructing folk devils to divert public attention, to abdicate state responsibility, and by using the ensuing moral panic to justify that abdication and the punitive welfare “reforms.”
Universal Credit (UC) was hailed as the government’s flagship welfare “reform” that aims to integrate six separate benefits. To hear Iain Duncan Smith speak, Universal Credit holds some kind of mystical power that will address all manner of social problems from unemployment and “undesirable” attitudes to child poverty.
Critics, especially in the media, tend to invoke the dismal consequences of IT contracting and the stunted progress of the policy’s roll-out.
This said, the Department of Work and Pensions are not well known for their cooperation and forthcoming when it comes to sharing pertinent information. But all of this has allowed the continuation of a dangerous myth: that the problems facing UC are all about delivery, rather than design.
It also means that UC becomes an impossible project to manage well. It seems that none of the programme leaders can take big problems to Iain Duncan Smith because he is in desperate denial that big problems can exist. He has clearly invested much ego equity in this vanity project.
The Mirror report that Universal Credit staff are to strike in protest against oppressive culture under the Tory welfare reforms. However, the focus of contention is mostly on the delivery and not the design of the policy.
Some 1,500 Universal Credit workers are complaining of staff shortages, poor training and money squandered on IT that wasn’t used. They claim they’re being given unrealistic targets as the government’s flagship reform is rolled out across Britain – over its original deadline and budget.
The cost of Universal Credit has soared to almost £16bn and it will now take at least 5 years to implement, according to a damning watchdog report last month, from The Major Projects Authority (MPA).
The scheme, championed by Duncan Smith with David Cameron’s full support, received royal assent in 2012 with initial plans for a full roll-out by the 2015 general election.
A pilot scheme has been introduced in selected areas, but only 65,000 people in the UK are currently claiming universal credit, according to government data.
Huge costs include £40m which was spent on computer code which then wasn’t used – with officials admitting in 2013 it would end up having no value.
And a Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) survey earlier this year found 90% of staff still had concerns the IT system wouldn’t be adequate.
Next week’s walkout will be followed by an overtime ban running until August 18.
The union says that the Department for Work and Pensions isn’t giving the scheme enough resources and has performed a “massive scaling back” of flexible working hours.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said:
The introduction of universal credit has been a textbook example of how not to reform essential public services.
The DWP’s handling of every aspect of it has been disastrous.
But my own concerns extend well beyond mere financial costs and implementation issues.
One undercover reporter in the Bolton call centre, where workers are now going on strike next week, said he was told not to mention an emergency fund unless callers asked about it.
Worryingly, the undercover journalist claimed he was told his call centre was “like Fight Club.” A trainer was recorded telling him: “It’s a bit like Fight Club – we don’t discuss what happens in Fight Club.
So you don’t talk about flexible support fund either.”
The oppressive welfare “reforms” have a profoundly negative impact on those people that the policies are aimed at. Job Centre Plus’s predominant focus is now on compliance monitoring with less attention given to meaningful and in-depth employment advice and support for claimants.
Perhaps the major contributing factor to an increase in workplace oppression is the collective behaviours of the current government, which has perpetuated, permitted and endorsed prejudices against social groups, such as disabled and unemployed people, with a complicit media amplifying these prejudices. Tory policies embed a punitive approach towards the poorest social groups.
This in turn means that those adminstering the policies, such as staff at the Department of Work and Pensions and job centres are also bound by punitive, authoritarian behaviours directed at a targeted group.
As figures of authority and role models, their behaviour establishes a framework of acceptability. Parliamentary debates are conducted with a clear basis of one-upmanship and aggression rather than being founded on rational exchange. Indeed, the prime minister sneers at rationality and does not engage in a democratic dialogue, instead he employs the tactics of a bully: denial, scapegoating, vilification, attempts at discrediting, smearing and character assasinations. This in turn gives government departments and indeed wider society permission and approval to do the same.
The set of underpinning assumptions that Universal credit is founded on are wrong. The New Right have formulated individualistic psychopolicy interventions aimed at the most excluded social groups. These coercive and punitive policies are dressed up and paraded in a populist, pseudo-language of psychology, poorly-defined and flawed concepts such as “lack of motivation” and “psychological resistance to work” are being used by politicians and jobcentre staff to allocate claimants to more or less arduous workfare regimes, for example. Such policies are not aimed at supporting people: instead they act upon people, objectifying and dehumanising them. And instructing them how to be.
Welfare has been redefined: it is pre-occupied with assumptions about and modification of the behaviour and character of recipients rather than with the alleviation of poverty and ensuring economic and social well-being.
For example, Jobcentre “nudge” posters, designed by the Government Behavioural Insights Team are used to “encourage” claimants to expand the area of job search to increase their chances of finding work. The posters are designed “to challenge claimant attitudes that had been identified as barriers to work.” Aimed at Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, the posters used the idea of “loss aversion” (an economics and decision theory which, in basic terms, claims that disincentives are more effective than incentives in modifying behaviours,) by highlighting the potential job opportunities that claimants might miss out on by not widening their job search area. Of course the most powerful application of loss aversion theory is in benefit sanctions for non-compliance. And to meet Jobcentre targets.
The Behavioural Insights Team have also prompted the use of “altercasting” (a technique of persuasion, aimed at manipulating identity, (to be assumed by other(s) with whom one is in interaction), which is congruent with one’s own goals) to establish a social dynamic based on the authority of Jobcentre staff and an obedient counter-role of claimants.
All of the Tory psycho-policies are aimed at compliance, ultimately. Altercasting is a method of persuading people by forcing them into a social role, so that they will be inclined to behave according to that role. It’s worth considering that the Authority-Agent altercast was also used by Stanley Milgram in 1974 in an experiment to prompt people to give electric shocks (increasing in potency) to other people (in a fake learning experiment) under orders of the authoritative experimenter. The participants were actually administering fake shocks to acting confederates, but they were unaware of this deception. 65% of the participants were compliant in administering what they took to be near-lethal shocks.
The stigmatisation of people needing benefits is designed purposefully to displace public sympathy for the poor, and to generate moral outrage, which is then used to further justify the steady dismantling of the welfare state. Such stigmatising – by using negative affiliation and outgrouping rhetoric – is another type of altercasting. It serves to stabilise benign conceptions of the “authority”, to structure social threat perceptions of others and to legitimate what are ultimately cruel and punitive policies
But the problems of austerity and the economy were not caused by people claiming welfare, or by any other powerless, scapegoated, marginalised group for that matter, such as migrants. The problems have arisen because of social conservatism and neoliberalism. The victims of this psychocratic government’s policies and decision-making are being portrayed as miscreants – as perpetrators of the social problems that are caused by government decisions.
In the universal credit white paper (pdf), the government argued:
Welfare dependency has become a significant problem in Britain with a huge social and economic cost.” The new benefit will be “leaner” and “firmer”.
The UK has one of the highest rates of children growing up in homes where no one works and this pattern repeats itself through the generations. Less than 60% of lone parents in the UK are in employment, compared to 70% or more in France, Germany and the Netherlands … Universal credit will start to change this. It will reintroduce the culture of work in households where it may have been absent for generations,” the white paper argues.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation published a study that debunked the notion of a “culture of worklessness” in 2012. I’ve argued with orthers more recently that there are methodological weaknesses underlying the Conservative’s regressive behaviourist theories, especially a failure to scientifically test the permanence or otherwise of an underclass status, and a failure to distinguish between the impact of “personal inadequacy” and socio-economic misfortune.
Back in the 1970s, following his remarks on the cycle of deprivation, Keith Joseph established a large-scale research programme devoted to testing its validity. One of the main findings of the research was that there is no simple continuity of social problems between generations of the sort required for his thesis. At least half of the children born into disadvantaged homes do not repeat the pattern of disadvantage in the next generation.
Despite the fact that continuity of deprivation across generations is by no means inevitable – the theory is not supported by empirical research – the idea of the cycle of “worklessness” has become “common sense.” Clearly, common perceptions of the causes of poverty are (being) misinformed. The individual behaviourist theory of poverty predicts that the same group of people remain in poverty. This doesn’t happen.
However, the structural theory predicts that different people are in poverty over time (and further, that we need to alter the economic structure to make things better). Longitudinal surveys show that impoverished people are not the same people every year. In other words, people move in and out of poverty: it’s a revolving door, as predicted by structural explanations of poverty.
And then there is the fact that in-work poverty is rising. Over the last five years, the UK has become the most unequal country in Europe, on the basis of income distribution and wages. If that increase in inequality arose because of individual failings, as the Conservatives are claiming, why have those “personal failings” only become apparent so suddenly within the past five years?
The Conservatives are claiming that poverty arises because of the “faulty” lifestyle choices of people with personal deficits and aim to reconstruct the identities of poor people via psychopolitical interventions, but it is only through a wholesale commitment to eliminating poverty by sincerely addressing unemployment, underemployment, job insecurity, low paid work, inadequate welfare support and institutionalised inequalities that any meaningful social progress can be made.
Unemployment and in-work benefit claims are generally a measure of how well or poorly the government is handling the economy, not of how “lazy” or “incentivised” people are.
From Kittysjones and Politics and Insights:
Not only that, but for some years now Rose has been specialising in discrediting child abuse victims who have accused establishment figures of paedophilia and sex abuse, as well as trying to discredit child abuse investigations as a whole – see a couple of examples here and here.And here’s a previous blog post of mine highlighting how Rose tried to discredit a lawyer who was working on behalf of child abuse victims:Daily Mail ‘fixer’ David Rose defends paedophilia accused and attacks child abuse victims. Again.