The failures around the Universal Credit project, exposed by the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, are the responsibility of David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith, not civil servants... This failure was Iain Duncan Smith's. It goes right back to the start of the project. The idea for Universal Credit was developed in the Centre for Social Justice which Iain Duncan Smith set up. It is a good idea. It has the potential to simplify the system, and make it clearer to people how their circumstances will change if they get a job. But ministers have never got to grips with what was going to be involved.
With an increasing demand for properties, combined with an acute shortage of social housing, the idea of taxing council tenants who maintain a spare room seems reasonable, but a closer investigation into the matter reveals that this taxation may be affecting societies most vulnerable whilst only adding to a worsening housing situation.
The chaos at DWP knows no bounds. They've given us a Work Programme worse than doing nothing. Universal Credit is descending into universal chaos. And now the department has bodged its regulations so badly that a Court of Appeal judgement has struck down its general power to issue sanctions of any kind shape or form. Incredible.
With the Paralympics not all that far in the rear view mirror, Duncan Smith's outlook sounds almost consistent with the theme tune of that superb tournament: that people with disabilities are Harder Than You Think, and therefore don't need so many of your tax-funded handouts. It's a seductively simple premise, but it looks to be at variance with the facts.