A while ago, in a post about the BNP, I explained how I never wanted this blog to be about politics, a) Because I’m not particularly political and b) Because ranting about politics can get awfully undignified. Well… I tried. God knows I tried. But today I have failed, and if one man is to blame for that it’s Iain Duncan “Fucking” Smith.
Yes. Iain Duncan Smith. A boiled egg with delusions of grandeur.
He was on BBC Breakfast this morning, extolling the virtues of Universal Credit. Now, when it comes to the changes being inflicted on the benefits system in this country, there are vast swathes of the argument I would avoid, simply because I don’t know enough to argue persuasively in any direction, but with Universal Credit, I can say with some confidence that Iain Duncan Smith is a great big pair of fucking clown shoes.
First, there’s the fact that payments will be monthly and – as has been tested in several parts of the country already – claimants will receive their housing benefit directly. Monthly payments, as anyone who’s tried to scrape by on a meager income will tell you, are a terrible idea, as you end up overspending straight after “payday”, buying all the stuff you’ve gone without for the last fortnight. Weekly, or even fortnightly payments make an enormous difference when you’re budgeting and haven’t a pot to piss in. In those areas where direct payment of housing benefit has been tested, including several councils in South Wales, rent arrears have rocketed.
There’s also been a shift, in recent years and in regions across the country, towards an almost exclusively online benefits system. Rather than go in to their local job centre and fill in a form with the help of a human being, claimants now have to do everything online. Using a computer. And the internet. These are some of the poorest people in the country, and Iain Duncan Smith is working on the assumption that they have both home computers and the internet.
When asked about this (by the lovely Susanna Reid), IDFS replied, “80% of claimants have the internet, via their PC’s and phones…” (or words to that effect.) The important words here are “and phones”. He expects claimants for the new Universal Credit to do all the paperwork on their mobile phones. Because, of course, that’ll be a walk in the fucking park.
I’m a reasonably bright person, I like to think, and I have a university degree, but I find filling in forms using a PC a right royal pain the arse. Reduce that screen down to the size of a Top Trumps playing card and it would be a fucking nightmare.
What I would like to know is, once you’ve removed all those who only have internet access via their mobile phones, how many benefit claimants have decent access to the internet?
“Ah, well,” said IDMFS (and again, I’m paraphrasing a little here), “Then they can go to their local libraries and use the computers there.”
Yes. Their local libraries. The same local libraries that are closing in their droves, as local councils struggle to meet the draconian targets imposed on them by Gideon Boiled-Testicle-For-A-Face Osborne as part of his based-on-some-wackadoo-and-since-discredited-study austerity measures. Not only that, but this ingenious plan means turning library staff untrained in helping people fill in benefit forms into a kind of auxiliary benefits support service, on top of them doing the actual job they’re paid to do.
“But of course,” said Duncan Smith, “96% of jobs these days involve working with computers, so they should all know how to use computers anyway.”
Now, there are so many assumptions, jumps in logic, and rhetorical twists in that suggestion, I’m surprised Iain Duncan Fucking Smith didn’t strangle himself to death with his own pancreas.
“96% of jobs involve working with PCs… Therefore people should know how to use them… So it’s their fault if they can’t use PCs. Or afford them. So mnyaaah.”
I should be clear, I don’t think anyone is going to lose out financially or starve to death as a result of Universal Credit. I just think it’s a badly thought-out scheme that the government will call a “pilot” before skewing the figures to claim it a success, while in the real world people who shouldn’t have to – i.e. library workers – will take up the slack. Like Workfare, it’s a shining example of how this government in its ideological posturing against the public sector refuses to see the benefit in understand how vast swathes of the public sector actually works, or join the dots between removing services in one area and replacing them with fuck all.
I’d love to have some witty way to tie this post up, some retort aimed at IDS that would make me look clever and him a fool, but I don’t. All I’ve got is this:
Fuck you, Iain Duncan Smith. Fuck. You.