Features

Lord Freud: the man who saved the welfare system

Despite Labour’s attempts to have him fired, the welfare minister is a model public servant

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

It was mid-October and Downing Street was in a panic. Lord Freud, the welfare minister, had been secretly recorded suggesting that disabled people could be paid less than the minimum wage.

Labour demanded Freud should go. The No. 10 press office was briefing journalists that he would be out within hours. Craig Oliver, excitable Downing Street director of communications, advised the Prime Minister that Freud was finished.

There was talk of the return of the nasty party, and days of dreadful headlines. In the end David Cameron stayed loyal. Within 48 hours the story was forgotten.

Welfare reform is the coalition’s most important achievement. Universal Credit is at the heart of welfare reform. David Freud drove through universal credit when many others wanted him to give up, and the technical problems looked insoluble. His title is junior — parliamentary under secretary of state for work and pensions. In truth he has done work which outranks almost all cabinet ministers in importance. David Freud has left an imprint on Britain that will be felt half a century from now.

Britain’s shallow media/political culture, dominated by the trivial and the short term, is incapable of appreciating let alone understanding this. David Freud’s quiet determination, long-term vision, gentle humour and exquisite mastery of detail have remained a national secret.

He is a master of his brief. He is one of a handful of Conservative ministers outside the cabinet who have stayed in the same job for the last five years. Lord Freud is not a party politician. He has worked with Labour as well as the Conservatives, yet Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms would have been impossible without him.

Great-grandson of Sigmund Freud, David joined the Financial Times after Oxford university, ending up writing the Lex column. He joined SG Warburg, then Britain’s most celebrated merchant bank, where he steered Eurotunnel and Euro Disney towards flotation.


Nine years ago Tony Blair, in an inspired move, invited David Freud to review the welfare system. He recommended much more private sector involvement in helping the long-term jobless back into the workplace.

His recommendations made sense to everyone apart from Gordon Brown, who made sure Freud and his reforms went nowhere. In despair David Freud crossed the street to the Conservatives, who made him a life peer and appointed him shadow welfare minister.

From then on Freud dedicated himself to unravelling Gordon Brown’s disastrous welfare system. Some of the solutions — for instance employing private firms to bring the unemployed back into the workplace, or setting more rigorous tests for disability benefit — were relatively easy to implement.

Far more complex was replacing Gordon Brown’s calamitous system. This had grown so complicated that even managers of benefits offices found it hard to operate, let alone clients. There were too many different credits. It was arbitrary and unpredictable. Worst of all, these Kafkaesque rules often meant that it was financial lunacy for people on benefits to take on more work. This encouraged a pool of long-term unemployed, condemned to live as clients of the state — economic madness and a human tragedy.

Freud recognised that the solution was a single universal benefit, which everyone could understand. Huge technical problems presented themselves because it meant scrapping Brown’s tax credits and starting again with a new system — and a new computer — large enough to cope with 20 million people.

Such a system needed to talk, in real time, both to HMRC and to employers. When Freud asked the advice of accountants PwC, he was told that it would take eight years to build.

For this reason there was no commitment to impose universal credit in the Tory manifesto. Then, with just months to go before the 2010 general election, Lord Freud had what he calls his ‘lightbulb moment’. Over coffee with a chance acquaintance he learnt that the payments systems company VocaLink had already designed a real-time PAYE system, and that it worked.

It was now clear that Universal Credit was possible. It was a question of making it happen. Lord Freud says that he lost a stone over the summer of 2010 as he set out the details in the welfare white paper.

There have been huge teething problems. The project nearly foundered over how to prevent fraud. Philip Langsdale, the civil servant who had been brought in to mastermind the new technology, suddenly died. George Osborne at the Treasury formed an improbable alliance with Polly Toynbee at the Guardian as they both warned that the idea would never work.

Last month Universal Credit started to roll out nationally and there are now unmistakable signs that the project can be a success. More than 30 million are in work, the highest level on record, while the employment rate stands at over 73 per cent.

Private sector employment has soared, amidst intriguing signs that coalition welfare reforms are changing the structure of the jobs market. Here is Ben Broadbent, deputy governor of the Bank of England: ‘In certain areas of the labour market, particularly the lower-skilled end, there are things that are increasing the supply of labour.

‘I’m thinking of changes to welfare rules in particular that mean that people might be less inclined at the margin to want to stay in unemployment, or even to stay outside the labour force. It may encourage them to come back in.’

If Broadbent is right, then this government’s welfare reforms, by easing the labour market, have brought down the natural level of unemployment. This does not simply mean greater economic prosperity. It means hope and personal fulfilment for those who would otherwise have been on the margins of society. This is something to be proud of and many people — from anonymous civil servants to welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith — deserve huge credit.

So does David Freud, one of those people who gives public service a good name. Arguably, refusing to sack him was the best decision made by David Cameron in the last five years.

Peter Oborne is an associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • Richard_Stanier

    Whist I wholeheartedly agree that Lord Freud should not have lost his job for the twisted reporting of his comments regarding some disabled people and the National Minimum Wage, I nonetheless think this article might be premature.

    Many professional people in Social Security will be surprised to hear Lord Freud described as a master of detail. There are many detailed issues not resolved within the UC project.

    The UC is a good idea but there have been, and there remains, many questions over the implementation of the idea. You only need to peruse reports from the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office to see that.

    There are only 96 job centres where people with children or partners can claim UC, and in the one third of all job centres where UC can be claimed, there are restrictions on claims from “complex cases”. Such cases include (in addition to those with partners/children) people that are homeless, or homeowners, those with more than £6000 capital, pregnant women, people approaching retirement age, people under 18 and some disabled/sick people with a “limited capability for work”

    Successful introduction of UC for the above groups will determine whether the detail has been mastered or not.

    The current administration of the existing job seekers allowance – tough application of sanctions, the involvement of private sector employment advisers and restrictions on the entitlement of European Nationals will all have helped to reduce the number of unemployed in a rising economy.

    • Radio Jammor

      “The current administration of the existing job seekers allowance – tough application of sanctions, the involvement of private sector employment advisers and restrictions on the entitlement of European Nationals will all have helped to reduce the number of unemployed in a rising economy”

      So; Kill the vulnerable or force them into suicide, or make it impossible for them to claim benefits, give public sector jobs to the private sector at lower wage rates and with less job security and apply xenophobic rules to prevent Johnny Foreigner from claiming welfare.

      Oh yes, rapturous applause all round for all that, I’m sure, at Tory Party HQ.
      I’m not familiar enough with Oborne’s writing to know if he’s being serious or not. I hope his tongue is firmly in his cheek; if not, someone needs to shove in front of him the details of the deaths, destitution and mistreatment being handed out by the DWP under the Welfare Reform that he is trumpeting in this piece.
      Or is Oborne just another heartless Tory, whose journalistic ethics over advertising don’t stretch to the rest of humanity?

      • Richard_Stanier

        My comment was non – partisan. Peter Oborne credited the Universal Credit with the increase in people in work. I merely pointed out that this outcome could have been achieved independently of the UC.
        I made no comment upon the morality of the methods.

      • notme3

        No, just ask them to not spend their day in bed and actively look for work.

  • Anita Bellows

    49 suicides of benefit claimants investigated by the DWP. Over 1 million sanctions leaving people destitute, relying on foodbanks, 123% increase in homelessness since 2010, the UK government being investigated by the UN for violations of disabled people rights, the disability assessment system in virtual collapse, and UC is already failing the small number of claimants it is supposed to cater for. That is the most expensive failure of any government, financial and human.

    • Ed  

      “the UK government being investigated by the UN”

      That’s the UN that had Ka-Daffy’s Libya running the Human Rights Council, I believe.

      Yeah, that’s not going to wash.

      • Anita Bellows

        I can see you are addressing the main points

        • Ed  

          What part of “the UN doesn’t cut it” was unclear?

          • Sheeple_Hater

            Even if you remove the UN as a factor, the facts stand. This government is depraved.

    • victor67

      Those suicides are the ones where a clear link to benefit sanctions was made. The number of lives blighted is probably in the thousands.
      In my work with mental health patients I have seen incredibly vulnerable people left with nothing for weeks for relatively minor breaches.

      • Anita Bellows

        I totally agree with your comment. I used suicides as it is something people can relate to while it is more difficult to describe how sanctions and benefit cuts have driven people to despair and blighted as you say hundred of thousands of people’s lives. Let’s not forget that 4.8 millions disability assessments have been undertaken but have not managed to reduce the number of claimants (on the contrary), while putting them through a demeaning, stressful process which has worsen their physical and mental conditions. As for sanctions, I hope there will be some accountability some day. DWP recognised that sanctions lead to a deterioration in health, through deliberate starvation, the evidence shows that sanctioned people are not more likely to find a job than non sanctioned claimants, so these policies are purely punitive, apart from being unlawful and deliberately cruel.

        • notme3

          I would sanction before breakfast, dinner and tea, if it *helped* people into work. The evidence is it does.

    • MountainousIpswich

      You’re one of the people who formed a lynch mob to attack an individual. You have zero credibility and no one is gonna be taking lectures from you.

      • Anita Bellows

        Sorry to disappoint you, but I never formed a lynch mob and I don’t write for the Guardian. And I don’t take lectures either from kippers.

    • notme3

      – People commit suicide all the time.
      – Sanctions are good. Get up for your interview on time, tell the DWP if you cant make it, dont just not turn up and fill in application forms.
      -Homelessness is at the third lowest since 1979.

      The welfare reforms are working, the reality is if it was labour introducing them you would be lauding them.

      • Anita Bellows

        And DWP investigates suicides normally? As for sanctions: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/24/benefit-sanctions-trivial-breaches-and-administrative-errors?CMP=share_btn_tw
        And remember the 1 million of disability benefit claimants who were going to be off benefits? No difference with 2010 and the numbers are going up again.As for homelessness and foodbanks, their explosion were under this government. You would think that Osborne would have paid or partly paid the debt by cutting so much. No.

        • notme3

          PS. The link is important, because it shows in that million sanctions, there were bad ones. Because the consequences are so severe, it is essential that sanctions are given out according to a set criteria, and that appealing them is quick.

          Dont argue against sanctions which have been a stunning success, argue about how they are implemented and make sure they arent abused.

          I have no sympathy for someone who didnt turn up to the DWP for an interview, and didnt tell them. They deserved to be sanctioned, if however they can show mitigation, such as a hospital admission, bereavement etc, then it should be overturned pretty sharpish.

          Again with people missing an interview because of a failure in public transport. As long as they contact the DWP *before* their appointment, again, they shouldnt be sanctioned.

          • Anita Bellows

            They never have been a resounding success. In fact, a claimant who is sanctioned is not more likely to find a job than a non sanctioned claimant. This is from the DWP own research. If you want to know more about sanctions, the Work and Pensions Committee just published the results of their inquiry:
            http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmworpen/814/814.pdf
            But yes, I am totally against sanctions. It is a regime geared to catch the very small number of people playing the system but which is hitting mainly people who have done nothing wrong, some of them being disabled.

          • notme3

            The more you say you are against them, they more people just ignore you. Burying your head in the sand. Whistling to the wind. You might get a sympathetic ear from Labour in opposition, but in power theyll be just as ruthless as the Conservatives.

            You do your arguments no favours. I am pretty certain every single one of those suicides would have happened, with or without welfare reform. No person commits suicide for one single reason. It can be a series of things, in which one final thing throws them over the edge (to use an inappropriate metaphor). If it wasnt a benefit reform it would have been some unpaid bill, some family dispute, friendship breakdown etc.

          • Anita Bellows

            You are very good at reading quickly such a lengthy report written by a cross party committee. I suppose you would not have liked what it said either.

          • James

            You should just be silent. Mental Health is something you know nothing about – suicides happen because patients do not have the capacity to live so when they have sanctions it pushes them over the edge.

          • Fraziel

            Sanctions are important and necessary, it isthe level of them that is unacceptable. If someone commits suicide it isnt just because of a sanction.

          • Fraziel

            Sanctions are important and necesary but the level of them is totally outrageous. I could literally assault someone in the street and end up getting fined less. Sanction people by all means if they do not comply with their claimant commitment but to cut their benefit to zero for up to 3 years because they were 5 minutes late for an interview should not be acceptable in any civilised society. Thts an extreme example but yes, that is what happens. Even the lesser sanctions are punitive and shocking in their severity.

          • James

            Sanctions are not necessary for people who will not be able to work due to the severity of their condition. Losing benefit can cause no electricity and no ability to refrigerate medications that need to be kept at extremely low temperatures. Someone who lacks mental capacity can act compulsively with suicide from the shock of having benefit stopped.

          • Fraziel

            I am referring to people who are fit for work and expected to look for work.

      • James

        People who are physically incapable to go to appointments are being penalised only to cost the tax payer fortunes in legal expenses to make wrong decisions right. Sanctions seem a good idea on the surface but in the real world they are being used to persecute people who should not be persecuted. The welfare reforms are not working for people either – zero hour contracts is not employment and leaves a ticking time-bomb for more welfare claimants adding to the mass youth unemployment.

        • notme3

          That is not true. If you are on JSA and cant get to appointment, all you do is you tell them before hand. You dont just not turn up. If for an extended period you cant make an appointment then you are probably not available for work and JSA is not suitable, therefore you will be moved from JSA to ESA.

          In the DWP advice it quite clearly states you wont be sanctioned if you cant make an appointment for (quote):

          If you had transport problems
          If your health or disability prevented you attending
          If you have language, literacy or learning difficulties
          If you had a medical appointment that would be unreasonable to rearrange
          Bereavement.

          That isnt to say wrong decisions arent made. I am sure wrong decisions are made in every government department and every business up and down the land, a quick appeal process should/is in place.

          Sanctions are one of the best solutions for the intrinsically bone idle, the ones who think they can float through life doing nothing. Their time is finished. No engagement, no money.

          Zero hours contract blah blah. 1.8 million more jobs in the economy, youth unemployment dropping like a stone.

          What i cant understand is why some people are agitated at the thought some people needed a bit of a kick up the bottom to get them into work. But in work they are.

          We have a jobs miracle out there, and this time it isnt only eastern europeans who are benefiting.

          • James

            It is true I work supporting mentally ill adults. I note you deliberately refer to JSA mindful that disabled and mentally ill adults don’t get JSA entitlement because they are incapable of working – shall we throw them off the cliffs of dover or would you prefer we gathered them together and burned them alive?
            Stop talking nonsense about things you know nothing about. There is not a doctor in the land from any political background who would agree with you – benefits for the most vulnerable are being held back and hindered by ‘reforms’ that is not just causing suicides in some cases but affecting every mentally ill and disabled person in the country – these people should be excluded from sanctions when they are severely ill and will never be able to work.

          • notme3

            If you notice i quite clearly made a distinction between ESA and JSA.

            Sanctions arent going away you know, the last government introduced them. Instead of sticking your head in the sand against which is clearly a very good idea that is working well, why dont you be positively constructive and talk about ensuring that people who are capable of some work in some way (which many disabled people are) are sifted into the right ESA groups.

            Have a list of illnesses that can be agreed with DWP that are exempt from sanctions, or sanctions are always at a lower tier.

            These kind of things arent beyond the wit of man. I imagine those in charge switch off when you start going on about zero hours contracts. snore snore.

            See im falling asleep just typing it.

          • James

            You live on another planet. There is no social housing for severely mentally ill people – let alone support for training or educating those who may have a chance to recover and work in future. Most can’t even access treatment. Honestly, stupid people would do well to mind their own affairs and not interfere with things beyond their imagination.

            I really don’t know what to say to a thick idiot who does not see what is happening in the real world. The government removed the legislation that professional medical opinion is not valid – therefore someone diagnosed with schizophrenia, OCD and Bi-Polar Disorder can be deemed fit to work by an unqualified stooge with a political agenda. Put simply, forensic psychiatrists who say someone does not have the mental capacity to work say it because they are not able to work.

          • notme3

            Im not sure if you are referring to me, you seemed to be ranting about social housing.

            Residential support for people with disabilities is second to none in the area i live. It really is. Stunning, teams of workers support a group of three to four individuals in what looks like a series of every day homes spread around the county. The care is provided by several different trusts who are commissioned by adult services.

            If someone is put on ESA they receive support and training. End of. We can then move the argument that the training they do receive isnt sufficient for their needs.

            We dont get that, we just get hot air and anger. At this point decision makers move on. Go ahead, keep on helping your argument. All the people who could assist you are jogging right past you because of your ranting.

          • James

            The care tusts you refer to who privatised mental healthcare are under investigation by government as we speak because of the rate of neglect and patient deaths. Just because in one small area things are ok, doesn’t make it ok for the rest of the country.

            How can someone put on ESA receive training when they are not fit to train, work or go outside? Why do sanctions work when they remove income from people who can’t possibly work?

            I doubt you can even figure basic mathematics for an average 5 year old, but here is some facts – it costs tax payers more in legal fees when cases go to court – someone who is unable to work and has been given sanctions is not in the wrong – this is a criminal offense against the individual, which is why every case is lost. You simply can’t force someone into work who is unable to work.

          • iviv44

            You say: “How can someone put on ESA receive training when they are not fit to train, work or go outside?” Are you really saying that there is no intervention that will help any such people to be capable of work again?? That is akin to saying that we should just give up on these people – that palliative approaches are the only option. Thank goodness you are not running the welfare system.

          • James

            There is no real support for people with mental health – private contractors who run it don’t even give them access to treatment and just over prescribe drugs. Those who get access to therapy – many are homeless and attend the therapy from the streets.

            The reason why mental ill people suffer as well as many other folks is that government can’t tell the truth and say immigration is causing chaos because there are too many people and not enough resources.

          • iviv44

            So in that case look at the quality of the interventions, not the principle (that we want to see those with mental illnesses progress to the point where they can work again). And if you think there is a better of helping people in these situations, then why not put together a scheme and bid for contracts? Sure, immigration puts pressures on these services. However, many mental health professionals working hard to resolve your concerns are immigrants, so it works both ways.

          • Fraziel

            A jobs miracle? you dont get out much do you. Come to Glasgow where unemployment is triple the national average and ecomomic growth is not being felt by anyone. Zero hr contract jobs offer nothing to anyone. I agree sanctions are important and necessary but the level of them is punitive and unacceptable.

    • Weaver

      It’s difficult having a grown-up conversation with people who spend all their time angry and partisan.

      Which was rather the point about Lord Freud.

    • John Andrews

      If you have come to expect generous welfare payments then having them reduced or stopped can be severely depressing.

      • Anita Bellows

        I am not on benefit so I don’t expect anything. But I don’t think that just over £70 per week for a jobseeker (£50 if less than 25) is generous. Carers get around £58/week. People are dying because of the welfare reforms, especially sanctions.
        I don’t have to be on benefits to see that it is wrong.

        • John Andrews

          Lowering welfare payments is persuading more people to take jobs – which is good, even if they find it initially depressing. But I agree about severely disabled people. Society should look after them and not in care homes. Much better to pay people for looking after the disabled in their homes than to pay abled bodied people for doing nothing in their own homes.

          • Anita Bellows

            There are more jobseekers than vacancies. And the reality is employers who have the choice are going to employ preferably somebody who is not disabled, which is why only 50% of disabled people are employed compared with 80% of non disabled people. The majority of disabled and jobseekers are desperate to work.

          • John Andrews

            I was arguing that severely disabled people should not be expected to work and that they should be cared for in their own homes, not in institutions, thus creating more jobs for jobseekers.

          • Anita Bellows

            There are disabled people on JSA who have been found fit for work by Atos, and are pushed onto the work programme, and sanctioned, because JCP staff don’t take their conditions into consideration, and people claiming ESA are also subjected to sanctions. The most sanctioned are people with a mental health condition which find it difficult to navigate and understand the system. People on JSA who are sanctioned lose 100% of their benefits for a minimum of one month. How starving people help them to find a job? The report I attached says that sanctions are getting in the way of finding a job, because people don’t have the money to go to jobs interviews, and they make them sick, mentally and physically.

          • John Andrews

            Your reply, though informative, leaves me unsure whether you read my post and whether you agree with my points.

          • Anita Bellows

            Sorry, it is just this misconception over ‘severely disabled people’. Maybe 1% of them work, out of a very small number. So they are not the issue. And you are touching a very sensitive point: why deny the right to disabled people to work if they can, with adjustments? You are not going to solve the unemployment problem by denying work to disabled people and you will be violating the CRPD of which uk is a signatory, and which guarantee equal rights to disabled and non disabled people, including employment.

          • John Andrews

            I agree and would not deny anyone the right to work. Work is good.
            But you still haven’t responded to my point: Society should look after severely disabled people and not in care homes. Much better to pay people for looking after the disabled in their homes than to pay abled bodied people for doing nothing in their own homes.

          • Anita Bellows

            I absolutely agree with this, which is why we (DPAC Disabled people against cuts) are fighting against the closure of the Independent Living Fund. It is a fund which allows the most severely disabled to chose how they want to live their lives and all of them want to live in their homes and are terrified to be institutionalised.
            More practically, this fund is much cheaper to administer than all the alternatives.

          • John Andrews

            It’s unusual for an internet discussion to end in agreement. Thank you.

          • Anita Bellows

            Thank you too.

          • Retired Nurse

            Who’s he?

          • Pacificweather

            Increasing welfare payments is helping people to get jobs. Employer subsidies are the main reason fo the rise in the welfare budget

    • Liberty

      For most of this government the Welfare system was that inherited from Labour who created the mess. The new system is only just being rolled out.

      • Anita Bellows

        It has been made harder (about sanctions notably) but you are absolutely right. It was part of the Welfare reform act introduced by Labour. I am not playing party politics.

  • Mc

    “Welfare reform is the coalition’s most important achievement.”

    But it’ll make no significant dent in the budget deficit or national debt. Don’t expect any party to implement changes that’ll meaningfully address those two issues.

    • Ed  

      Hey, if it makes peoples’ lives better, and is budget neutral, I’ll score that as a win. I also assume that over time higher employment and higher economic activity will lead to lower benefit costs and higher tax revenues.

      I’ll take it.

      • Mc

        You’re easily persuaded.

        • Ed  

          Do re-read. You’ll see I said “if”.

          • Mc

            Even if it is budget neutral, there’ll still be a massive public debt that no government intends to meaningfully address and a massive budget that distorts the economy and hurts the poor most – the poor who are easily bought off with other people’s money.

          • Hamburger

            The alternative way to reduce public debt would be to follow the system put in place to revitalise southern Europe. I think your system is more successful.

  • clivegsd

    Freud has been persecuting the poor and disabled people, he wants a history lesson on persecution and how it impacted on his family.

    Also Universal Credit was Freud’s idea not IDS’s as can be seen from the Freud Report.

    The plain fact is that this isn’t “welfare reform” this is “welfare cuts” designed to hurt the poor and disabled people in society. So far Iain Duncan Smith has been responsible for more deaths than Dr Shipman.

    Freud should definitely have lost his job for the comment he made, he knew what he was saying and it’s the view of the entire Tory party and the cretins that agree with their actions against disabled people

  • Paul Trembath

    Dangerously misleading nonsense that will raise a very hollow laugh from sick and disabled people struggling for survival in the teeth of welfare “reform”, or anyone who has been forced to use a food bank, or anyone suffering the expensive shambles that Universal Credit has actually become.

  • DrewDrewDrew

    “Welfare reform is the coalition’s most important achievement.”
    Yet another article praising the neverless-than-brilliant policies of Duncan-Smith, McVey and Freud, following on from the editor’s paean to boom-time for jobs Britain last week. Who’d have thunk it? I’m sure both of these articles don’t have anything to do with the upcoming general election.
    The reality is – to use one of Duncan-Smith’s favourite phrases, which makes him sound like a mental patient who’s forgotten to take his medication – “the reality is that there are more people working than ever before” – yes, we know. This is because there are more people alive than ever before, you nits.This good-news mantra is repeated endlessly by lazy journalists and not-terribly-bright politicians catering for the not-terribly-bright readers of the tabloids (and please, don’t post any bleating populist comments about this being an elitist comment. The reality is (copyright 2010-2015 I.Duncan-Smith) the bottom-feeding tabloids are supporting a wealthy elite in this country.I’m sure this has nothing to do with the owners all being billionaires.)
    Welfare (or social security, as it used to be known – obviously the government doesn’t want to encourage that sort of nonsense) has become a caricature of what it was originally intended to be. The only logical position for the likes of Duncan-Smith and the government – since clearly none of them believe in it at all – is to campaign for its abolition. Clearly this wouldn’t make them look very good in their manifesto, so it’s much better to run it down in preparation for selling off to “providers” and other “wealth-creators” who’ll bring a healthy sense of competition to the scene (otherwise known as slurping away at the great teat of state subsidies – cf. A4e, Ingeus, G4S and the rest of them).
    Mass unemployment has been around since the early 1980s and neither Labour nor the Conservatives have done anything to deal with the real problems. The endless “courses” for the unemployed involve basic literacy and numeracy tests, tweaking your CV, improving your interview techniques etc – in other words, the narrative is always that if you haven’t got a job, it’s your fault. It’s your attitude, it’s your star sign, it’s the way you drink your tea – it’s just never, ever anything to do with the economy or government policy.
    The DWP’s Them-and-Us policy involves treating the unemployed like recalcitrant children with the result that essentially they become infantilized by the state – it’s a Stalinist approach advocated by idiots who really haven’t got a clue.
    By the way, I’ve got a job. Thanks.

    • Hamburger

      More people are in work because more people are alive? Think that one through please.

      • DrewDrewDrew

        Yes thanks, I’ve thought it through: Britain has the highest populationit’s ever had, ergo there are a higher number of people in work than ever before.
        Idiot.

        • Hamburger

          Er, no. The size of a population doe not directly correlate with the percentage in work.

          • DrewDrewDrew

            Er, yes. Nobody in the government – i.e. Duncan-Twit, McVey and the truly brilliant statesman who saved the welfare state Lord Freud – mentions percentages. They state that the largest number of people ever are at work – more than ever before. In numerical terms this is correct but, sadly, not a result of their witless policies In percentage terms it isn’t correct – today there is 73% adult employment.
            Simply put: the coalition DWP ministers repeat this constantly in their media appearances for fairly obvious reasons (“Aren’t we brilliant?”) Any macroeconomist will tell you that this, along with their claim to have created many thousands of jobs, is just balls.

          • Hamburger

            All that you write may be true. The comment above mine was nonsensical.

          • DrewDrewDrew

            Whatever. Perhaps you could supply spme evidence about the population/working population correlation? Advanced industrialized countries only please.
            Thank you.

          • Hamburger

            If there was a correlation, there would be stable, identical unemployment rates in advanced industrialized countries. This is not the case. Compare France and Germany for example.

          • DrewDrewDrew

            Suppose a hypothetical European country a century ago had a population of 1m with 750,000 people in work; now it has a population of e.g. 5m with e.g. 4.2 million people in work. Clearly there are more people in work as the population increases in Western Europe. Percentage-wise, of course, it isn’t necessarily true.
            But it’s rather beside the point: the claim by the DWP is that there are more people in work than ever before (with the obvious implication that this is a result of the government’s economic policies) is never challenged or analyzed by our supine media. It’s the slowest economic recovery in 300 hundred years. It might’ve been a tad quicker without the pointless austerity measures of the first two years of this government.
            The narrative is rather frantically trying to prove that “reforming” welfare will make work pay. It might help if business didn’t rely on the state to top up low wages and high rents with public money. The only coherent position for a Conservative to take is to argue for the abolition of the whole structure. As it is, the beneficiaries of the state’s largesse tend to be bottom-feeding companies who wouldn’t last five minutes in a proper competitive business environment.
            I’ll let you get back to teaching your undergraduates.
            Cheerio for now.

          • Hamburger

            We agree on most things, enjoy your election!

  • Sheeple_Hater

    This has to be the biggest load of crap I’ve ever read in my life. The author clearly has no experience with reality. I’d love to know how much he was paid for Freud for this piece of pure fiction. Or was it blackmail?

  • So sad that Peter, you are so good on many issues but are absolutely mislead and ignorant of the truth on social security. Thousands of deaths, billions wasted, hate crimes increased, the UK now the first nation ever to be investigated by the UN for abrogating the rights of disabled people after Amnesty condemned the Coalition. Awful that a journalist does not detect the democide happening right under his nose.

  • Kennie

    “In the end David Cameron stayed loyal.”
    I think it more likely that as usual, Cameron dithered in his normal indecisive way and was lucky that some other distraction took people’s minds off this. Feeling that Cameron was being ‘loyal’ to me would make me feel very nervous ( Coulson, etc)
    Cameron staying loyal to someone; a bit like the Chairman stating they have full confidence in their football club manager.

  • John Andrews

    Big computer systems always cause big problems but the objective of UC system are correct. As many people as possible should be in work. This is good for the wallet, good the soul and good for the country. I do not mind waiting a while for them to get the computer system working properly.

  • James

    Welfare doesn’t need reform the local councils are run by foreigners giving housing to foreign people who don’t need it or deserve it – vulnerable adults and mentally ill people are unable to access social housing. Our peaceful hate-preaching Anjem Choudrey gets 25k pa in benefits but a disabled or mentally ill person gets £5.kk for some unknown reason.

  • Pacificweather

    The party of free market capitalism has now become wedded to employer subsidies.

  • Retired Nurse

    This is the man who referred to disabled claimants as ‘stock’…his ‘lightbulb’ has certainly popped, hasn’t it!
    All he did is copy the German ‘Hartz Concept’ -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartz_concept – which only works with forced labour for state providers, and has proved such a resounding success there, that it ohly works if 1 million claimants are on trumped up ‘sanktions’ at any given time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lSxYVrD51o .

  • Glynis Millward

    Oh well the DWP staff that are tasked with implementing Universal Chaos, sorry credit, must be wrong then!

    https://glynismillward189.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/universal-chaos-bonfire-of-the-vanity-project/

  • Nonsense. Ever since Thatcher, public service, and politics, means business. How many vulnerable people have been abused by disgusting outfits such as ATOS? How many vulnerable people have chosen suicide rather than become destitute? Stop insulting us with this crap, Mr Oborne and look at what is really happening. Freud is the Woodhead of welfare, it is not that he should be sacked, it is that he should never have been appointed in the first place.

  • ” A coroner ruled that a major factor in his death was that his benefits had been greatly reduced leaving him almost destitute.” From: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/03/dwp-apologise-linda-cooksey-tim-salter-benefits-cut

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