Huffpost UK Politics uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Nash Riggins Headshot

It's Time for a New Debate on Welfare

Posted: Updated:

Ever since dream team George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith decided to launch their counter-intuitive campaign against Britain's sterling social security system, the public has tolerated their fodder based upon the delusional presumption that the government 'sort of' knew what it was doing.

"After all," we reassured ourselves. "Times are tough, and it only makes sense to cut a couple corners."

It was under this rationale voters shrugged when the time came to rollout the government's universal credit system - consolidating a devolved group of separate payments into one, streamlined benefit. Other reforms didn't go down quite as well; however, we all know that MPs like to stay the course. So, when the bedroom tax kicked off last April, what did Mr Duncan Smith do? He stuck two fingers in his ears and simply screamed back at the top of his lungs that it was our moral imperative to maintain fiscal discipline - which presumably outweighed our moral responsibility to keep a roof over the heads of Britain's most vulnerable.

Not even one year down the line, it shouldn't surprise anyone to know these heartless (and financially questionable) cost-cutting measures are being performed with the utmost incompetence.

Much like the IT errors that transformed Barack Obama's revolutionary dream of affordable healthcare for all Americans into a conservative pundit's wet dream, Iain Duncan Smith's universal credit system has been dogged by design flaws from day one. The government has had to write-off upwards of £90m to get the system back on track - although with support dwindling in the echelons of government, it remains to be seen whether that can really happen.

To kick start the New Year in an uncharacteristically honest fashion, the Cabinet Office has decided to withdraw all of the IT experts that'd been previously committed to the project - apparently keen to wash its hands of the Department of Work and Pensions' colossal social security cluster-fuck. Iain Duncan Smith has now been left to wallow in his own filthy mess, looking on as a vast majority of impoverished claimants continue to be dismissed from the scheme because their financial situation lacks an arbitrary degree of simplicity.

Against all odds, the hits keep on coming.

Because the DWP utterly failed to rewrite old regulations before they decided to implement their benefits reform package, the government did not create itself the legal power needed to enforce its insufferable bedroom tax. Translation: we now know that up to 40,000 claimants may have had their benefits stripped or faced eviction illegally. In turn, not only have we allowed the government to push scores of disabled and terminally ill citizens into a pit of deprivation without any moral authority - but we've allowed them to do it without any legal authority.

Because of these blatant oversights in accountability, it's not unreasonable to expect we'll be starting the year with an influx of administrative chaos and legal battles. And, with any luck, our out-of-touch MPs will meet this storm head on - ready to admit their callous policies have ruined thousands of lives without warrant. They need to reopen the debate on how we dish out benefits, and make some serious changes. But we can't let it end there.

As a society, Britain is ingrained with the all-too rare compulsion to ensure at least some minimal degree of financial equality for all its citizens - regardless of race, creed or upbringing. That's something to be proud of, and it's something worth fighting for. Why, then, should we allow our rich, career politicians a second chance at reshaping this categorical staple of British society? They've already fallen disgustingly short of providing tangible reforms to the system - and if voters truly believe in the notion that they live in a remotely fair society, they must be the ones to guide this debate. The lives and wellbeing of thousands of friends and neighbours depend on it.

Around the Web

Welfare Reform Solutions | Republican Study Committee (RSC)

Welfare Reform - Heritage Foundation

House GOP: Welfare reform 2.0 for food stamps - David Rogers ...

Scarnati seeks state welfare reforms

Police boss excuses women who shoplift and says it's because of welfare cuts

'I'm no slouch on welfare reform' - Nick Clegg

Iain Duncan Smith: People are shocked by 'Benefits Street' and Labour will ...

Lessons from Dutch Welfare Reform