No radical reform, only retrenchment and continuity with the policies of the last governmentby Declan Gaffney / April 7, 2015 / Leave a comment
Perhaps the kindest thing to be said about James Bartholomew’s recent article for Prospect on Iain Duncan Smith is that its partisanship is undisguised. As an account of the coalition’s record on social security, it cannot be taken seriously.
Part of the problem—there’s really no nice way of putting this—is that there are simply too many silly mistakes. We are told that “the rate of unemployment has… fallen by 813,000” since late 2011. That’s a fall in the count, not the rate. We are told that among the reasons for this fall are that more single parents and disabled people are subject to benefit conditionality: but prior to these policy changes, most of those affected didn’t appear in the unemployment figures (because they were economically inactive), so they won’t have contributed to the fall. We are told that prior to the coalition, unemployed claimants “used to go to a Job Centre, fill in forms and be given their benefits. Now they are required to make a commitment to seek work,” as if conditionality had not been a feature of the UK system for decades (what does he think the introduction of Jobseeker’s Allowance…