IDS is yesterday’s man seeking headlines

A minister desperately trying to hide from his own policy failures at great human cost


After overseeing five years of Tory Welfare Waste in coalition, IDS is back. Having failed to help disabled people into work via his disastrous ‘Work Programme’ he’s unwilling to improve his own performance, instead picking the easier target of disabled people’s benefit payments.

He’s aiming for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) again. His changes during the coalition already saw many people on ESA because of long-term conditions have their benefit entitlements limited to 12 months. For the avoidance of doubt: this is a benefit that, according to DWP, is only paid to ill and disabled people.

Worryingly, IDS’s  target includes 850,000 people with ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ (to use DWP vernacular) which includes people with learning disabilities.

If it wasn’t for the people likely to lose out under his plans, it would have all the comedy value of a weak storyline from The Thick Of It. A minister desperately trying to hide from his policy failures and prove to his new backbenchers that he’s up to today’s job by chasing yesterday’s headlines.

What’s worse is IDS knows he’s wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on his abysmal Universal Credit scheme, been beset with delays costing the public millions, and also failed to address the wasted money and opportunity of his Work Programme.

It’s been running for years, but remains on a pleateau, with a ‘success’ rate in the single figures for disabled people. Liz Sayce, CEO at Disability Rights UK, drafted a report for DWP under the coalition on how to better support disabled people into work. After years of waiting for implementation she appears to have lost patience with IDS, judging by her comments on his latest announcement.

Instead of providing disabled people with more personalised support, IDS is just axing some of their current financial help which, according to Sayce, risks leaving them in poverty.

IDS has decided that, after years of ignoring disability organisations and charities’ suggested improvements for his assessment processes and employment programmes that would save money and time, he’d rather just cut payments for disabled people.

Aiming for the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ is a favourite government department analogy, but only applies if they’re doing any reaching. IDS isn’t even stooping for strawberries.

The impact of his proposed change has severely alarmed many disabled people. Losing financial help has contributed to the deaths of other benefit claimants.

IDS claimed statistics weren’t available on this issue, but was overruled by Number 10 – not that it stopped DWP delaying publication until ‘Autumn’ this year. When published, they will no doubt make awful reading – and yesterday’s announcement will only increase the likelihood of some disabled people plunging further into debt and despair.

So far, not enough has been made of the scandal of IDS axing vital help to some our most disadvantaged friends and neighbours. Or how his policies have contributed directly to the deaths of individuals made vulnerable by severe financial hardship. Or how this could possibly coexist with IDS’ purported Christian faith.

But the real scandal is how this man, given his track record of incompetence and failure, still has a job in government at all.

Neil Coyle is Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, and formerly co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and director of Disability Alliance

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12 Responses to “IDS is yesterday’s man seeking headlines”

  1. Godfrey Paul

    IDS is doing a very important and difficult but absolutely necessary job in reforming our benefits and welfare system so that those who have been misusing the system for years are weeded out and only those who are really unfit for work are supported.

  2. Kathryn

    It is completely unnecessary when the rate of fraud is so low. The money that this exercise has COST us would have been far better spent elsewhere. This is a witch hunt, and a distraction technique from an incompetent and economically illiterate charlatan.

  3. Pascal Rascagneres

    Yes, except he is not doing that. He has been set a target to reduce benefits expenditure and is aiming at the easy target. I think we can all agree that those who refuse to work should not live of the state but those people are rarer than the current government would have us believe. IDS is aiming at those people who are the most vulnerable in society in a way which resembles the Nazi party of 1930’s Germany. In my view this government is guilty of crimes against society.

  4. Bill Kruse

    How is identifying and stopping people who are misusing the social security system important? It’s not like they cost the country anything appreciable and the money they use goes immediately back into the system to be collected as taxes and distributed once again. In the context of a national economy, you’re talking about peanuts anyway. Where’s the problem?

  5. Kelvin Thomas

    Important and difficult, yes. But he’s made such a mess of it and has continually lied and manipulated figures. My dog could do a better job and his CV is in the post.

  6. Kelvin Thomas

    Spot on, Kathryn!

  7. AlanGiles

    Smith has probably sponged more off expenses in the past decade that some of the “fraudsters” have done in a whole lifetime.

  8. Nick

    Maybe so there will always be people that cheat the system
    but that does not give IDS the right to persecute all of the sick and disabled
    and in many cases to their death

    If we follow your logic then you give the green light to all
    dictators worlwide to go on to kill their citizens as they try to weed out the terrorists
    from the genuine citizens ?

    Your logic is very floored if you have a problem with a person in life you target the person only not their neighbor and most certainly not kill by negligence any innocent people along the way

  9. Andy

    Did you keep a straight face all the way through?

  10. Faerieson

    IDS is nothing short of a monstrous villain. He presides over a department that (probably routinely) lies and misrepresents, in order to seek to ‘justify’ the unjustifiable. The hatred in his voice, for the people he is charged with helping, poisons the very airspace that he inhabits. To this ‘creature’ the sick and disabled are merely numbers. Whatever he brings about his ‘achievements’ will forever remain just that, numerical! About numbers, not about people!

  11. Jon Wood

    How interesting it is that Scameron, whose late son, Ivan, was severely disabled, keeps this reprehensible creep in a job. Do any of this shower actually exhibit ANY traits normally associated with human beings?

  12. UnionJihack

    Come on chaps, this is not difficult

    IDS is the new Midstaff Burnham
    Yvette is Ms Balls
    Liz is a schoolgirl

    This leaves us with….?

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