Even the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban was forced to drag his lazy arse out of bed today to defend the workfare shambles which saw many of the government’s welfare to work schemes declared illegal.
Hoban claims that hastily rewritten regulations have been placed before Parliament which meet the requirements of today’s appeal court judgement. It remains to be seen whether he has been successful. In a truly shocking turn of events he has also insisted that no sanctioned benefits will be repaid despite today’s ruling declaring many workfare schemes illegal.
The pompous halfwit has only been in the job he does part time for five minutes and already thinks he’s above the law.
But it is the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith who has been shown to be out of control by this judgement. Hoban thinks he’s above the courts, but events have shown that IDS considers himself above the entire parliamentary democracy.
In his desperate rush to ram-raid mass workfare into law, Iain Duncan Smith neglected to develop the necessary regulations and instead assumed he could rewrite law on the hoof without any scrutiny from Parliament.
This breath-taking arrogance will come as no surprise to claimants and those fighting welfare reforms who have watched in astonishment as DWP Ministers have lied through their teeth about workfare, disappeared or re-written documents and attempted to dodge freedom of information requests.
In short, Iain Duncan Smith, and his then lacky Chris Grayling made two significant bodges. The first was in failing to provide adequate information about the nature of some workfare schemes to claimants and the consequences of failing to participate.
This means that any sanctions which were applied on those schemes were not legal and are likely to have to be repaid.
The second charge is far more serious. It appears Iain Duncan Smith attempted to use poorly worded legislation in the Jobseekers Allowance regulations as a kind of ‘enabling act’ giving him powers to mandate claimants to any scheme or activity he dreamed up. In a crude attempt to bypass Parliament, the Secretary of State failed to correctly set out regulations covering many workfare schemes instead relying on tricks of language to avoid scrutiny.*
In the words of one of the appeal judges:
“The Secretary of State cannot avoid the requirements of the Act in relation to schemes by calling them programmes. It would be absurd to conclude that a scheme is subject to the statutory requirements only if the Secretary of State decided to call it such.”
It seems that in Iain Duncan Smith’s rush to force claimants onto welfare he attempted to bend the law to the point it snapped. The end result is not just a huge embarrassment for the Government, but could still lead to millions being paid out in backdated benefits to those sanctioned
In any other job in the world, someone who bent the rules, got caught out and cost their organisation millions would be fired. It also raises the question of just how solid is the rest of the legislation on which welfare reform is based.
Iain Duncan Smith should be hounded from office. Instead bungling ministers are hastily trying to rush yet more legislation into law with the same inept arrogance that caused this farce in the first place.
Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on 18th March and help bring an end to forced labour for good: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996
Visit consent.me.uk for the full ruling: http://consent.me.uk/2013/02/12/ruling/
* Basic summary – Original Job Seekers Allowance regulations which gave powers of sanction backed training or ‘back to work’ type schemes etc were worded so they could also be applied to any future ‘prescribed’ schemes as devised by ministers – prescribed meaning (as was judged today) properly explained and legislated for. IDS used this to assume he could set up any old scheme, including workfare, without legislating and just referring to the powers for ministers to set up future schemes as justification. Judges said don’t take the piss, you cant just make up regulations as you see fit that have big impacts on peoples lives without them being placed before parliament.
Mandatory Work Activity is not included in today’s judgement as it is based on different legislation.
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