Category Archives: Wastage

Proof, If You Needed Any, That The Government Are Lost Up Their Own Backsides, At Least IDS Is

In a week that saw that nice man Iain Duncan Smith bully through his cuts to some benefits by up to £30 per week he has come under attack from an erstwhile ally.

The Social Market Foundation Thinktank have published a report claiming that the current disability benefits system is “broken” and must be comprehensively overhauled.  I’m sure nobody here would argue with that and it represents a significant government failure and yet more government wastage.

The (surely unwelcome) report recommends scrapping entirely the work capability assessment which is the somewhat discredited test used by the Department for Work and Pensions  to determine who is eligible for out-of-work sickness benefits and who should be classed as “fit for work”.

The report recommends tha the government should devise a properly funded system which would identify those disabled people closest to being able to get a job, while those too ill or disabled to work should have a “level of benefit provided … sufficient to allow them to live comfortably and engage fully in society”.

Also recommended in the report is the proposal that the government should abandon the failing, and hugely unpopular, benefit sanction system for people with chronic illness or a disability – instead putting an emphasis on support meetings and financial incentives through a “steps to work wage” on top of their unemployment benefit.

The bit that amuses me no end is the identity of the author. The report was written by Matthew Oakley – a former Treasury adviser who until 2013 was head of economics at the right-of-centre Policy Exchange thinktank. He’s on Iain Duncan Smith’s own social security advisory committee.

This shambolic Tory government has been responsible for what are the most disastrous social policy reforms in living memory.

There is some evidence that government policies will actually reduce disabled people’s chance of finding work and that many on the current rate are already struggling to afford to eat, typical of the current government approach: a disdain for both facts and people’s lives.

When even the government’s own advisers can no longer pretend this system is anything but rotten and their own side is turning against them it might just be time to listen, not that their track record on listening is terribly good.


Government Wastage Revisited

Hello, you haven’t heard from us for a while, but that’s not because we don’t care any more, we care just as passionately as before if not more so, we’ve both been a little busy lately, that’s all.

Two things have come to our notice this week that made us sit up and take notice again, and we feel that we should let you know as well, just in case you didn’t.

Firstly our old friend Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work and Pensions.  It seems that they are quite likely to have to scrap their entire IT system for Universal Credit and start again from scratch.

£300 Million wasted. #Austerity? Not in Whitehall apparently.

A review by Universal Credit director general Howard Shiplee will apparently recommend two options for the future of the IT developed so far, which go even further than previous reports have suggested.

Option one would mean scrapping all the work done so far, thereby admitting it is not fit for purpose, and bringing most of the development of new IT systems in-house under the control of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Option two would involve continuing to use some of the existing IT to support the current Pathfinder pilot projects, but developing new systems for the full roll-out – effectively delaying any decision to throw away all the work completed so far.

Option 1? Option 2?  Both of them seem to involve scrapping everything at some point, whatever.  The Cabinet Office, which controls GDS, is understood to favour the first option, while the DWP prefers to continue with the current IT for as long as possible. Two branches of the same government with opposing views, where have I heard that before?

The final decision will probably be made later this month by the Ministerial Oversight Group for the troubled welfare reform programme, led by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,  Iain Duncan Smith.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a highly critical report on Universal Credit in September that £303m had been spent so far on IT. Of that amount, the DWP has already admitted to writing off £34m of IT work, although that figure is likely to end up even higher whatever happens.

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Rachel Reeves wrote to the Prime Minister last week, urging him to “start taking responsibility for this fiasco”. She added: “David Cameron has serious questions to answer about how he has allowed things to get to this stage and how his complacent, incompetent and out-of-touch government has wasted scandalous amounts of money on a half-baked plan IT now can’t deliver.”

Don’t sit on the fence Rachel, what do you really mean?

But if all of the IT were to be scrapped, the NAO report suggests that the final figure for the write-off would be in excess of £300m.

Most of that money has been spent with the four key IT suppliers for the project – HP, IBM, Accenture and BT.

The other piece of disastrous news that caught my eye this week was in relation to my old favourite – Aircraft Carriers.

The cost of two new aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy is expected to be almost twice the original estimate, the government is expected to confirm this week.

In the latest budget, the Ministry of Defence is set to estimate the cost of the two ships at £6.2bn.

£6.2 BILLION. What on earth are they doing? How many hospitals, schools, police officers etc etc could be funded by just the difference in cost between that and the original. Six years ago, when the contract was approved, costs were put at £3.65bn

The shadow defence secretary, Labour’s Vernon Coaker, said: “This is the latest in a series of financial fiascos in the MoD under David Cameron.  It’s that word fiasco again (see above).

This government seem to be very good at cut cut cut in just about every public sector. We must all pull together, this is a national crisis, a time of severe austerity, and all of these cuts have to be in place before 2015 because we know we don’t stand a snowball’s chance of being re-elected.

Whilst, at the the very same time, they are increasing their salaries, increasing their pensions, and their expenses have almost returned to the excesses of the bad old days.  Only a few days ago was there news about how they were claiming for gas and electricity in their second homes, and as one of my Twitter colleagues put it “Why do they need to do that, because if they’re heating their second home they’re not heating their main home, or cooking etc?”

So nothing has really changed since we spoke last. We are most definitely NOT All In It Together and the ConDem government that NOBODY voted for has shown just how arrogant and uncaring they can be.

Trouble is, it’s left me the dilemma, Who the hell do I vote for in 2015?

Answers on a Postcard please, assuming that Royal Mail still exists when you read this.

We Told You About This Months Ago – More Govt Wastage, £74 Million

A government U-turn over fighter jets for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers cost taxpayers £74m, says the National Audit Office. The decision to scrap an order for jump jets, which was later reversed, had been based on “immature data and flawed assumptions”, it says in a report. Labour says the report “lays bare this government’s incompetence”. But Defence Secretary Philip Hammond says the U-turn will save money in the long run and is backed by the NAO. “Not only did it save £1.2bn; it also means that by 2018, we will have fifth-generation stealth jets flying off the new Queen Elizabeth Class carrier,” says Mr Hammond.

via BBC News – Carrier fighter jet U-turn cost £74m, says audit office.

Claiming DLA on line? Do not use up to date tech or a smartphone.

I saw this this morning and re tweeted it and think it is worthy of a mention here.

We have posted before about the amazing waste the government creates in introducing IT systems and it looks as though they have not learnt a thing from their failures.

The computer system claimants are encouraged?? use to claim the DLA & some other benefits only seems to work with outdated tech as described here in ComputerWorldUK 

You are likely to have problems if you use Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Windows Vista or a smartphone. Clearing temporary internet files may help but you may wish to claim in another way.
There is also a high risk that if you use browsers not listed below, including Chrome, Safari or Firefox, the service will not display all the questions you need to answer. This is likely to prevent you from successfully completing or submitting the form.”

Sampb has also written a good post on the subject: Want to claim DLA Online, Make Sure You Use an Outdated and Insecure Computer

So this is a system that I presume is supposed to make claiming Disability Living Allowance easier? How can that possibly be the case when it is not even up to date.

I have long thought this Government was treating people with disabilities cruelly and unfairly and this is yet another sign that yes indeed they are.

Not Very (HMS) Astute – Just a little bit more Government Wastage

A confidential Ministry of Defence memo says that corrosion on the UK’s new fleet of hunter-killer submarines was caused by cost-cutting and warns that quality controls have been ignored, the Guardian can reveal.

Written by a senior analyst at the MoD, the memo says the corrosion is a “cause for major concern”, and that the first three Astute class boats are likely to experience “severe problems” in the future.

“Has the objective been the prevention of corrosion in submarine components or was it just a cost-cutting exercise?” the memo asks. “It seems a decision has been taken to keep the painting to a minimum in Astute class build to reduce costs? It has to be accepted that the rust effected [sic] areas will not be 100% removed … It could be categorically stated that corrosion life of these components has been compromised and further corrosion problems could be expected before the planned maintenance period.”

The disclosure comes after a Guardian investigation revealed that HMS Astute, the first of seven new hunter-killer boats, has been beset with problems during sea trials, raising questions about its performance and reliability.

The £9.75bn fleet was commissioned 15 years ago to become a cornerstone of the UK’s naval attack capability, but a range of design and construction flaws have emerged.

Defence officials admitted corrosion was found on the submarines but insisted the problem had been rectified. They said it should not affect any more boats in the fleet.

However, the memo suggests the damage to the Astute, and its sister submarine HMS Ambush, was extensive and warns that the boats will have to spend more time being repaired in the future.

The memo says this is “clearly a Quality Assurance failure”, adding: “But there has not been any effort taken to find out the reasons for this failure. It is important that the MoD/Astute project finds out who was responsible for such a quality failure and more importantly how to avoid such QA failures in the future.” Expert advice was ignored “in the name of meeting a schedule”, it says.


The memo concludes: “It seems that the first three Astute Class Boats would have the same problems and therefore, the Submarine In-Service team could expect sever [sic] problems in the future.

“These failures show a lack of giving prominence to the materials and corrosion issues and taking decisions mainly with the objective of reducing costs. The MoD … seems to be concentrating on the procurement costs without consideration to through-life costs.

HMS Astute also encountered a flooding problem during sea trials last year, it has emerged.

Officials said the attack vessel let in tens of litres of water due to a corroded metal cap on one of its cooling pipes. As a result it was  forced to resurface.

Electrical switchboards were also found to be fitted incorrectly and concerns were raised about the accuracy of instruments monitoring its on-board nuclear reactor.

Despite the teething problems, defence officials said the issues had been rectified and it was “normal for first-of-class trials to identify areas where modifications are required”.

The history of procurement disasters at the Ministry of Defence is a long and dispiriting one and nobody wants the Astute submarine programme – already costing close to £10bn – to join the list. In some respects, it already has, because of the delays and budget increases over the last 15 years

In an industry where a small nut or bolt can cost up to £1,000, and be required to perform an important role, this is a necessity. The QA regime is there for safety reasons and to give confidence that other cogs in the system do not jam.

The cap that failed on the water cooling pipe on HMS Astute was supposed to have QA1 status, but somehow a cap  made of the wrong material [Really?  That IS unacceptable] was installed. The MoD and BAE Systems, which has the contract for building the Astute submarines, have refused to be drawn on how this happened and why they think it cannot happen again

John Large, a  nuclear submarine expert said. “The implications of these revelations are that the submarines are likely to be held over out of service longer during future maintenance spells and, of course, there are costly safety and operational issues arising from this,”

Every penny counts at the MoD at the moment. Thousands of people – serving personnel and civil servants – have been made redundant. Thousands more will go next year too.

The MoD cannot afford another procurement embarrassment.

The boat has yet to start formal service, Astute – four years overdue and £2bn over budget – has been surrounded by controversy since it was first commissioned 15 years ago.  Is this really acceptable?  Do we have to live with such apparent incompetence?  What would be the outcome if we behaved as incompetently as that?

Submarine corrosion caused by cost-cutting, says leaked MoD memo | UK news | The Guardian.

Reform and Wastage, Together, And It’s Happening NOW

This wastage is not historical, this is not an old story with the cobwebs blown off it, this is today, and it’s called

Universal Credit.

Emperor Dave told us that he was reforming the benefits system.  He was going to save the country a small fortune.  His grand ideas included linking benefits to wages instead of inflation, a cap on Housing Benefit, adjusting regional benefits to the cost of living and apparently no-one under the age of 25 needs Housing Benefit anyway.  All in all he’s looking to save £10 Billion from the Welfare Budget.

To help him achieve this target his ConDem government invented Universal Credit.

The aims and objectives of said Universal Credit are

  • improve work incentives
  • smooth the transitions into and out of work, supporting a dynamic labour market
  • simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper for staff to administer
  • reduce in-work poverty
  • cut back on fraud and error.

It will be launched in 2013 and will replace:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit.

Now we get to the infuriating bit,

Regardless of where you stand on benefits the government should not be wasting OUR money.

It has become apparent that this innovative, flagship project has been hit by an IT glitch, somewhat reminiscent of the NHS farce.

The Independent reports that the scheme has been placed on a Treasury list of projects in crisis.  That sounds quite bad to me.

Universal credit has a development budget of £2 Billion. It is supposed to be a paperless on-line IT system for claimants that would bridge the DWP’s data with the Treasury.  However, the project is already suffering a £100 Million overrun. There are also concerns that a further £300 Million is being hidden by rising costs reallocated to child support payments.

A reorganisation of the complex IT system, following the departure this month of key senior civil servants in charge of universal credit, could mean an overrun of £500 Million by next spring.

There you are, we’ve just saved the Met’s Budget again.

The last Labour government was estimated to have wasted £26 Billion in botched IT projects, which included the national programme for the NHS and the fiasco over the national identity card scheme.

Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, Liam Byrne, said : “Universal credit is in danger of descending into total chaos. Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship scheme is late and over budget, top officials are heading for the hills and no one seems to believe the massive IT system is on track. Ministers must take urgent action before it becomes a multibillion-pound disaster.”

Universal Credit is dependent on a colossal database and IT system being created which is far more ambitious than has ever been attempted  by any country previously.  The new benefit regime will be digital by default, meaning millions of people, many of whom don’t have and can’t afford internet connections at home, will only be able to access benefits from Jobcentres and libraries.

Incredibly  Universal Credit probably won’t even save any money and is likely to cost far more to administer than the current system.  Whilst the new benefit system was intended to be rolled out in next April it now seems that there will just be small pilot projects in Cheshire and Manchester, with the intention now of rolling it out to a grateful nation in October 2013.

Mr Cameron – when in opposition – promised a move away from big IT projects, another broken promise Dave.

Updating The Big Picture

Most of the blogs I read are Police-related.  The main reason for that is because that’s my background.

Earlier this year Steve and I decided that we’d give The Big Picture a try in an attempt to get some information out there about what else is going on in Public Sector Land.  We’ve featured articles on the NHS, Fire Service, Prison Service, Criminal Justice Sector, Interpreters, and I believe even HM Coastguard might have got a mention.

We have also included items on the con that is known as Privatisation and the effect that Think Tanks can have,

Most recently we have concentrated on a short series of articles on Government Wastage.  We have tried not to be party political, although this current ConDem coalition does just keep on giving (when they’re not taking away from us that is).  Waste by ANY Government on the scale that we have highlighted is extravagant, hypocritical, incompetent and bordering on the criminal.  The worst example that we have featured is the NHS IT debacle at £12 Billion.  I don’t need to point out that these wastages are cumulative and that their effects continue on and have made the cutbacks that we are suffering proportionately worse.

I am fully aware of the role that the global banking industry has played in the recession and austerity, but I do hold successive governments partly and directly responsible.  The Metropolitan Police for example are struggling to make £500 million of savings.  I’m quite sure that there will be job losses and overtime restrictions involved to a greater or lesser extent.  The last 2 governments have wasted 24 times that amount on the NHS IT farce alone.  Aircraft Carriers (avoidable) and Chinook Helicopters (avoidable) added together exceed the Met’s target savings.

To take things forward and evolve we’d like to involve you, our reader.  We’re quite happy to carry on doing what we’re doing.  What we’d like you to do is simply RT the blogs as much as you can, not because we like big numbers, but we want to spread the message as far as possible

Feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of this blog to give us any kind of feedback you think we deserve.  We’re both too old to need smoke blowing, but if you like it, let us know.  If you think we could do things a bit differently you can let us know that too.

If you have any suggestions for subject matters that you think we might like to look at by all means include those.  I’m not promising that we’ll feature them but I will promise that we’ll look into them.

Finally, much like the manyvoices blog that I’m sure you’re all aware of, if any of you wish to contribute an article anonymously that fits in with our ethos then let us have that too.