It’s time for David Cameron to get a grip on the chaos which IDS has given rise to at the DWP.
It’s time for David Cameron to get a grip on the chaos which IDS has given rise to at the DWP
Iain Duncan Smith has already racked up multi-million additional costs to the taxpayer with the failed IT and delayed roll-out of the Universal Credit system that aimed to replace some benefits and tax credits.
He originally claimed that more than one million people would be on the new benefit by April 2014, but this week we learnt that Universal Credit is in fact being paid to fewer than 6,000. With fewer and fewer people joining the new benefit system every month, the government’s flagship welfare reform is grinding to a halt.
If one major failure were not enough, Iain Duncan Smith’s department has also been responsible for severe failings in the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) programme. Work Capability Assessments are meant to test people’s capability for work but have been so poorly run that Citizens Advice Bureaux have been swamped with people needing help appealing inaccurate decisions by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
These mistakes are costing the taxpayer millions, thanks to the cost of the assessments and then paying for the tribunals – at a time when genuinely disabled people are denied the right support.
In April Rachel Reeves and I set out how a Labour government would reform Work Capability Assessments to help more people into jobs.
New figures released this week have shown that the new Personal Independence Payment looks set to join the DWP’s roll-call of disaster and delay.
In 2010 the coalition also announced the abolition of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16-64. DLA was to be replaced for some of the 1.8 million people affected by a new benefit – Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – announced with the aim of cutting twenty per cent from the total DLA budget.
The DWP planned for 1.3 million people to have gone through the new process by the end of 2015 to provide a £1 billion reduction in expenditure, but so far, on average, fewer than 7,000 people are currently being assessed per month.
Once again, Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘reforms’ have run aground in dramatic fashion. The National Audit Office examined the rollout of Personal Independence Payment since April 2013 and concluded: “Because it may take some time to resolve delays the Department has increased the risk that the programme will not deliver value for money in the longer term”.
Disabled people have the most to lose under such an inefficient system. The additional time waiting could mean losing a job, opportunities to train or even a home.
Taxpayers are also faced with huge costs. At the current rate of assessments it would take 42 years to clear the backlog. And the assessments cost £127m per year to run.
If David Cameron doesn’t get a grip on his work and pensions secretary, there is a real risk that the projected £3 billion annual savings will be lost. This could mean a new bill of over £5 billion just to run the assessments to clear the backlog of existing claimants (before any new claim for Personal Independence Payment is made).
Costing more, saving less and repeating Universal Credit failures: classic Iain Duncan Smith. It’s time for David Cameron to get a grip on the chaos which IDS has given rise to at the DWP. If Cameron fails to act there will be more chaos, delays and waste and it’ll take a Labour government to sort out the mess which bungling ministers have left.
Kate Green MP is shadow minister for disabled peopleLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.