The recent report from the Major Projects Authority, which revealed that Universal Credit is such a fucking disaster they had to invent a whole new category to describe it, also laid bare the astronomical cost of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.
Just under £11 billion is budgeted to be squandered on some of the DWP’s largest projects, and that figure doesn’t include Universal Credit. The cost of this hare-brained experiment is shrouded in mystery now it has been classed as ‘reset’, but last year the Major Projects Authority reported that the bill would reach £12.8 billion.
Even this is far from the whole story. Community Work Placements, the latest mass workfare scheme, will cost almost a third of a billion. The costs of other Jobcentre schemes, such as Mandatory Work Activity, are not included in the above figures. At the very least the budgeted costs of welfare reform exceed £25 billion pounds. The true figure is likely to be much higher as reforms such as the Bedroom Tax unravel and start to cost the tax payer even more money.
The good news is that not all of this budget has been spent. It had been assumed by the DWP that the Work Programme would actually help some people get jobs. They thought wrong. Such has been the dismal performance of the payment by results scheme that it is one of the few of Iain Duncan Smith’s pet projects that is actually running under budget.
The bad news is that this kind of crazed optimism has led to ludicrous spending projections in which IDS has decided his reforms will lead to the cost of Jobseeker’s Allowance falling by over a third by 2017. This is likely to be because of all the new jobs that he thinks will be magically created by Universal Credit. What it means is that there is a time bomb in the social security budget for whichever bunch of bastards manages to win the next election.
With all this money being thrown around to bully and harass claimants off benefits it might be expected that spending on social security would fall, especially as those benefits themselves have been subject to huge cuts. This is not the case however and total spending on social security this year is forecast to be £10 billion higher than before the cuts began. This figures includes pensions, but spending on unemployment benefits, housing benefits and tax credits has reached record levels under this Government. Even spending on sickness benefits seems back on the rise despite Atos and the DWP’s attempt at curing people with endless assessments and workfare. It turns out people are still getting sick.
It is genuinely astonishing that a Government obsessed with austerity has given a blank cheque-book to a fucking idiot like Iain Duncan Smith. The real tragedy is that if some of this money had actually gone into to those who needed it then some of the worst impacts of the economic downturn could have been avoided. Instead the opposite has happened. The very poorest have been driven to destitution whilst billions has been shovelled into the pockets of grasping crooks in the welfare-to-work industry like A4e and G4S.
We are all paying the price of this reckless spending spree, and the social costs of child poverty, homelessness and despair that Iain Duncan Smith has spent billions creating will last for generations. One day people will look back in horror that one man’s folly was allowed to run rampant through so many lives. But for now the horror show continues unabated, and the financial cost is nothing compared to the tragedy of future’s destroyed and lives demolished.
To view the Major Project Authority report visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-government-major-projects-portfolio-data-2014
To see benefit expenditure and projections download the spreadsheet: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/310483/outturn-and-forecast-budget-2014.xls
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