Some much needed Christmas good news has come from the DWP of all places with the announcement that next year’s benefit cap is to be delayed for up to six months in most parts of the UK.
The cap, which restricts benefit levels regardless of how big a claimant’s family is, or the soaring costs of renting, will threaten thousands of children with homelessness at a stroke. Whilst the announcement is only a delay, it does at least give those whose lives are about to be plunged into government inflicted chaos, a little longer to prepare for the onslaught.
The cap will sadly still go ahead in Enfield, Croydon, Haringey and Bromley, three London boroughs already suffering rising homelessness.
The hold up, according to The Guardian, is due to concerns about computer software. It’s seems more likely that the practical administration of co-ordinating cuts to housing benefit – currently processed by local councils – and other benefits, some of which are paid by the DWP, and some by HMRC, has not been adequately thought through.
Once again another of Iain Duncan Smith’s crazy schemes had fallen at the first hurdle because the Secretary of State doesn’t understand the benefits system he’s reforming.
This announcement follows the Universal Jobmatch shambles. IDS is believed to have paid Monster Jobs approaching £20 million for the bodged website that he’s now having to pretend is great.
As anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the internet could have warned him, with no safeguards in place, the website has become a target for scammers, spammers and spoof vacancies.
IDS announced recently that it will be mandatory for those on Jobseekers Allowance to sign up to the website in the New Year. However there will be no requirement for claimants to tick the box giving Jobcentre staff access to snoop on their account, so don’t!
A piece of legislation that Iain Duncan Smith was either was unaware of, or chose to ignore, has put a digital spanner in the works of the endless jobseeking activity to be expected of all claimants when Universal Credit is launched.
Many people wondered how the DWP would have the manpower to police the new regime. Disabled people, parents, part time and self employed workers, will all now be expected to search for more, or better paid work, as a condition of receiving benefits. Universal Jobmatch was the answer. And they’ve fucked it up.
Building a basic website, and introducing a benefit cap, are far from the most difficult challenges facing Universal Credit, which involves the construction of the largest government IT database ever created anywhere in the history of the world.
You might even call them the basics. The ongoing shambles won’t protect many claimants from having lives thrown into chaos by the incompetence of the DWP. But there remains at least a chink of hope that this ineptness will ultimately mean the collapse of Iain Duncan Smith’s precious Welfare Reform Bill.
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