1) Inside Whitehall: Iain Duncan Smith must go
The Major Project’s Authority (MPA), designed to oversee implementations of public services and schemes, released it’s second annual report last week. In it, contained the failures and successes of government flagship schemes such as HS2 and Universal Credit.
The schemes are graded on a green, amber, red rating. But Universal Credit, had been given a “meaningless” ‘reset’ rating. A lie.
The Universal Credit scheme had been given a red rating by the MPA but this had been changed due to protestations from Minister for Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and his DWP department.
IDS has shown himself to be incapable of overseeing this scheme time and time again, with losses in the millions written off and damaging staff surveys revealing poor management, high stress and frustration. One member of staff said the work was “soul-destroying.”
The MPA’s red rating deems the scheme “unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget without urgent remedial action.” IDS’s attempts to manipulate the outcome and public fallout by falsifying the rating portrays the ignorance which Whitehall uses to gloss over huge failures.
Apparently, David Cameron considered replacing IDS at the last re-shuffle of government, and this is more likely now. It cannot come a minute too soon, because for the rest of us, IDS’s record of failures and abuse of power without consequence, has long since moved past disbelief into outright despair.
2) Racism on the rise in UK, increasing social division and placing more people at risk of poverty, warns JRF
Racism has increased since the start of the millennium with 30% of people admitting they at least a little prejudice towards people from other races. No prizes for guessing how this issue has been exacerbated by political discourse recently. But, the JRF warn that this means something far more damaging for our society:
“Over the last two years JRF has funded seven projects that have explored how poverty and ethnicity are linked. They found that racial prejudice can restrict people’s opportunities at work and their earning potential, cut their access to essential services and can affect children’s education, all of which increase the risk of poverty.”
“Racism was not something we asked the researchers to focus on. But it emerged as a key theme from every single study. We found that:
- “Racism, and the fear of it, restricts access to social networks, preventing people from making links which could lead to jobs, support for small businesses, training and other opportunities.
- “It can prevent people from being promoted at work, wasting their skills and potential.
- “In some parts of the UK it leads to people from ethnic minority backgrounds being directed into work for which they are greatly overqualified.
- “It intimidates people from leaving their own area to look for work or access services.
- “It underlies some concerns that people from certain ethnic minority backgrounds have about using childcare or formal care for older people.
- “Children’s education is affected by low expectations among teachers and by racist bullying.
- “Access to vital services, such as primary healthcare, is affected by experiences of racism, particularly from frontline staff such as receptionists.”
3) Council Tax Arrears now most common debt problem for Citizens Advice
Council tax arrears have become the most common debt problem for families needing help due to welfare reforms and changes in support, Citizens Advice announced on Monday.
The charity have dealt with 27,000 people needing help with council tax in the first three months of this year, up 17% on last year.
Citizens Advice said that the increase had come since the abolition of help with council tax in April 2013, with new rules introduced relying on councils to offer help. There are varying degrees of support from council to council but 244 out of 325 in England now require all working-age households to make some contribution. Council tax has now overtaken credit cards and loans as the number one debt problem for those seeking advice.
“Of those contacting the charity about council tax arrears, 42% were employed and 28% unemployed. The rest were full-time carers, or similar.”
4) Labour will not undo unpopular coalition cuts
Shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Chris Leslie announced on Friday that Labour ‘could not afford’ to undo unpopular coalition cuts. Sorry to say but you will get more of the same from a Labour government, who undoubtedly released this news to prove they are ‘responsible’ with money. We would prefer if they were just as focused on being responsible with people’s lives too.
‘I’m not heading into this expecting popularity. Quite the opposite. All government departments in the next Labour Government will have to face fundamental questions as never before. We won’t be able to undo the cuts that have been felt in recent years. And I know that this will be disappointing for many people. A more limited pot of money will have to be spent on a smaller number of priorities. Lower priorities will get less.’
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass