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UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the what's-all-this-then dept.

United Kingdom 266

judgecorp writes "Two media reports suggest that the Universal Credit scheme to overhaul Britain's welfare programme is in trouble. The IT project to support Universal Credit was launched by the Cabinet Office, and it will be completed and run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) — but the Guardian says the Cabinet Office has pulled out its elite experts too soon, while a different leak told Computer Weekly that the four original suppliers — HP, IBM, Accenture and BT — have been effectively frozen out in an internal change. It's the biggest change to Britain's benefits system for many years, and all the evidence says it's not going well."

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266 comments

no HP, IBM, Accenture and BT? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905205)

Sounds like it's going well then...

Benefit system ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905487)

Benefit for whom ?

The Western countries are being sapped dry by all the so-called "benefit" / "welfare" systems.

Because of the "benefit" / "welfare" systems, millions of immigrants have flocked into the Western countries, changing its demographics and its culture, while emptying the coffers of many of the Western countries.

Re:Benefit system ? (4, Interesting)

xelah (176252) | about 3 months ago | (#45905655)

For those who don't follow UK politics: 'Benefits tourism' is a big issue here, mainly because it's being pushed by anti-immigrant parts of the press and because various parties are competing to curb it as a vote-winning measure. It's especially brought up as an argument against the UK's EU membership, because the UK can't refuse to admit EU nationals.

There's very little evidence of benefits tourism actually taking place within the EU, and EU immigrants actually pay more in tax than they use in public services (for non-EU immigrants it's a little the other way round, but not very much). A quick Google suggests that EU migrants pay 34% more in tax, non-EU migrants 14% less and UK citizens 11% less. Numbers are rarely mentioned in this debate....I suspect that most parties like the idea of cracking down on it as a largely symbolic response and don't care if it makes any difference.

(It also looks like some Bulgarians complain about hordes of British tourists going to Bulgaria, getting drunk and relying on Bulgarian health care).

Personally, I think that, instead of complaining about the EU, EU governments should get together and decide that the citizen's previous country is responsible for benefits for a couple of years after he moves/pays taxes and then it switches over, or something along those lines. At least it might shut people up.

Immigrants (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905753)

You keep on harping on the "EU immigrants" while avoiding talking about what is going in England.
 
There are so many immigrants in England that in maternity wards across England's hospitals you find *MORE* non-white babies than the white babies !
 
This is not about race either, since the *White Babies* could be of the Polish or Russian or Italian or Romania stock.
 
Most of those who are receiving "benefits" are people formerly from Pakistan or Nigeria or India.

Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | about 3 months ago | (#45905207)

Let's hope the government didn't piss away another £12b on a failed IT system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHS_Connecting_for_Health [wikipedia.org]

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (5, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | about 3 months ago | (#45905251)

To be fair a single NHS IT system is a very good idea. Its just a shame the contractors smelt money and decided to milk it for all it was worth rather than bother to deliver a working system. I actually worked for a small company that was subcontracted by a certain large telecoms company back in 2007 to work on a subsection of the DB side and we did our best , but unfortunately the powers that be at said telecom company just didn't give a sh*t. We'd send them new binaries which would then never get tested or if they did it would be months before we'd get an in the field report back. Utterly shameful.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905289)

I fail to understand how a centralised system for storing patient information, images and prescription information required the input of five (was it only five?) major contracting companies and countless sub-contractors. It's a database. I mean, yes, it's a LARGE database, combined with some encryption and an interface to it. Companies build systems like these all the time, and they do it for a lot less than £12b.

I always just assumed it was outright fraud.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (5, Informative)

aethelrick (926305) | about 3 months ago | (#45905425)

it wasn't just a database. It was a database that had to incorporate and interoperate with a vast array of existing legacy software written in every language you can possibly imagine. Not only this, it was a stupid idea to start with, because MOST patients don't move around the country and a series of smaller regional systems would have made a lot more sense for MOST of the problems in communication that could be solved by interfacing computer systems.

The project was hampered by problems of patient confidentiallity, and who was reasonably allowed to access patient records at any given time. Data needed to be tied to locations that the patient was frequenting e.g. my GP is allowed to see my records, the doctor in the A&E I've just been admitted to is allowed to see my records but a doctor at the other end of the country doing a bit of record-surfing is not allowed to see my records. except when he is?!?!

The hospitals themselves pretty much (quite rightly) tried to keep the national system at arms length because it was not clearly understood or believed to be core to their day-to-day activities.

All-in-all the government of the day would have done much better to define a minimum data set and standards for interoperation rather than interferring and trying to control everything centrally. Given a decent interface and data set spec the miriad of small (cheap) software vendors already supplying the NHS would have all been motivated to implement it so they could interoperate with each others systems in a more uniform (read cost effective) manner. Communicating between hospital departments and between the hospital and the patients GP then would have been a much more simple affair and this would have solved most of the communication delay problems that happen in the real world on a day-to-day basis.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (2)

thogard (43403) | about 3 months ago | (#45905583)

Unified medical record systems are killed from within once the coders start to understand just how bad of an idea it is to have universal access to medical records.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 months ago | (#45905607)

The correct way of doing this sort of thing would have been to define standard formats for all of the information and produce a set of open source libraries for manipulating this data, then require every local medical authority to be able to produce and consume these formats. Each local authority could then take the open source reference implementation and add whatever ugly code they needed to interface with their legacy system. It doesn't matter whether they use the new formats internally, or just provide a mechanism for importing and exporting. Most likely, they'd initially do the latter, but when they started to replace existing systems they'd want to make native support for the standard formats a requirement.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (2)

tubs (143128) | about 3 months ago | (#45905609)

> required the input of five (was it only five?) major contracting companies

I worked in the NHS at this time, and there were originally 9 companies I think all working on the same thing, but working in different geographical areas - the idea was that the failure of any single company would not cause a major problem - indeed it was accepted that it would probably whittle down to 5. Of course that also fell to 2 companies doing it, which in the end weren't actually doing anything other than sucking up large sums of taxpayer money.

These system though were replacing all of the hospital MIS systems, so they were having to compete with systems that had been in place for years and had improvements and improvements, and didn't actually do a lot of things that users wanted - so they were having to run dual systems. I worked in a trust that was two merged trusts - and they had a different MIS in each hospital site.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905719)

"Given a decent interface and data set spec the miriad of small (cheap) software vendors already supplying the NHS would have all been motivated to implement it so they could interoperate with each others systems in a more uniform (read cost effective) manner. "

They did. They do. The NHS IT disaster wasn't the "spine", which worked pretty well (and still does AFAIK). That's the comms & standards that join care providers together and allows data transfer between different care providers software - pretty seamlessly on the whole. The NHS IT disaster was the Patient Administration System "Lorenzo" - on which a truly enormous amount of money was pissed, and which has never worked to an extent worth mentioning.

To paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke the Younger (1, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 3 months ago | (#45905303)

To be fair a single NHS IT system is a very good idea. Its just a shame the contractors smelt money and decided to milk it for all it was worth rather than bother to deliver a working system.

No offerings from the Good Idea Fairy survive contact with reality.
The contractors always go under the bus, every time. As Mark Knopfler intoned: "They punish the monkey, and let the organ grider go. [youtube.com]"
The fundamental problem here is that, for reasons of political power, politicians ever asserted that having the government manage individual health was somehow a swift idea. If the politicians were as good at implementing systems themselves as they were at blaming the contractor (yet, somehow, re-hiring them at the next go-around) then Utopia would arrive with the sunrise.

Re:To paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke the Younger (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905347)

Rididng that hobby-horse again. Every other modern state has universal healthcare, mate, and it is working spectacularly. Read the article and the summary again and you'll see that that isn't the problem.

Re:To paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke the Younger (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 3 months ago | (#45905597)

Quite. The USA likes to see itself as a first world country yet if you get ill and you can't afford health insurance can basically go die in a corner for all they care. Even some 3rd world countries give more of a shit than that.

Re:To paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke the Younger (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905685)

How un-Christian of Americans to care so little. Aren't there supposed to be private charities for the less fortunate? Where is organized religion when it's needed?

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (2)

Spad (470073) | about 3 months ago | (#45905325)

No, it was a terrible idea.

Rather than defining a common data standard for patient records and having a centralised lookup system that facilitated record transfer between locations, they instead created a dreadfully designed, poorly tested, feature-poor, monolithic system intended to replace the hundreds of clinical applications that everyone was already used to using.

"Here, now you have to use this application with a totally unintuitive interface that's totally different to your current system. It won't work properly on ~20% of the machines you install it on, despite basically just being a Citrix app. We won't import half the existing records and the ones we do can't include any mental or sexual health information because we didn't bother with fine-grained access controls. Oh and it's not finished yet and probably never will be so you'll have to continue using all your old apps in parallel anyway."

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (4, Informative)

Viol8 (599362) | about 3 months ago | (#45905557)

"We won't import half the existing records and the ones we do can't include any mental or sexual health information because we didn't bother with fine-grained access controls"

I hate to ruin your rant but - and I know because I worked on this - that the database records had various levels of encryption (by which I mean if you just did a SELECT from the DB on certain patient fields all you would see is garbage so even DB admins couldn't see it) which meant that - in theory - only the correct people could access certain parts.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (1)

ImOuttaHere (2996813) | about 3 months ago | (#45905339)

I wonder who wrote a contract that lacked close oversight of the program with verifiable test results at various delivery milestones?

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 months ago | (#45905371)

Suppliers are understandably wary of signing such contracts, when ministers regularly get 'good ideas' and start imposing new design requirements regularly during projects.
Is this the fault of 'fat cat contractors' - perhaps to a degree.
Does government have its own share - oh yes.

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 months ago | (#45905399)

Its just a shame the contractors smelt money

Smelting money is always a bad idea. The base metals are worth much less than the original coins and they're not even good metals for making tools, etc. (which could be sold for profit).

Re:Lets not hope it's like the NHS IT disaster (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 3 months ago | (#45905657)

The older US pennies were made from copper and are worth more than their face value. More recent ones aren't pure copper, so they're not worth melting down. Besides, it's illegal to melt US money.

Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905209)

Can it really get any worse???

Re:Really??? (2)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 3 months ago | (#45905235)

It certainly can!

Who do you think the losers will be?

Hint, not the people who wasted a fortune on a system that doesn't work.

Already people are being driven to food banks (much to the amusement of the Tories*, as seen in a debate on the subject) and that's just the few changes they've managed to get through so far.

When UC comes in it'll be a lot worse, homelessness will skyrocket as those who are unable to take care of their finances fall behind on rent (Currently rent is paid direct to landlord by the government, when UC comes in it'll be a single lower payment, all paid to the claimant with them being responsible for paying the rent, it's not hard to see that anyone with drug/alcohol/mental problems is liable to spend the rent)

This country is heading for disaster and the poor are being made to pay for the actions of the bankers etc. who got us into this mess in the first place.

* Laughing Tories: http://order-order.com/2013/12/19/shamed-pictures-of-mps-laughing-in-food-bank-debate/ [order-order.com]

Re:Really??? (1)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 3 months ago | (#45905249)

I do apologise, the MPs pictured in the link above are Labour, although the Tories were at it too, Guido and his selective reporting -.-

not entirely correct (5, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | about 3 months ago | (#45905257)

Currently, Housing Benefit (rent) is paid to the tenant by default; However, if the tenant falls more than 2 months behind then payments are switched to go direct to the Landlord.

This change was made under the last Labour government as a way of encouraging tenants to get some practice at budgeting for expenses; Naturally for a small and feckless proportion of the housing benefit recipients, the extra money paid direct was a windfall they spent on drink, gambling and drugs.

Should be added that for most recipients the total of housing benefit received is less than the total rent and they are expected to make up any excess from their unemployment or disability living allowance payments (where 'rents' include standing charges such as power, heating, council tax anyway) - so even if the landlord has a defaulting tenant and gets direct payments from the local authority, they only receive the element of the total rent that relates to actual rent, and must pursue the tenant for the rest.

this system has caused many UK landlords to refuse to rent premises to recipients on housing benefit (although of course if a tenant went from employed to HB and kept up the payments rather than defaulting, the landlord would never know, which is some shielding...)

Re:not entirely correct (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905319)

"Naturally for a small and feckless proportion of the housing benefit recipients, the extra money paid direct was a windfall they spent on drink, gambling and drugs."

Citation needed.

And not a Daily Hate Mail opinion piece, please.

Re:not entirely correct (1)

CdBee (742846) | about 3 months ago | (#45905329)

Wouldnt dream of quoting that vile organ of bile - I'm well into the left of the spectrum, just more anti-gambling and anti-addiction than most liberals.

Re:not entirely correct (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 3 months ago | (#45905531)

I've seen it happen. There is a small minority of people who really don't seem to understand that sometimes you have to keep money back to pay rent, or that any loans you take must be paid back, they just see a loan as 'free money'.

I knew someone like this and what was extremely puzzling was she was running her own small business profitably. But her personal finances were a disaster - she treated loans as if they were a lottery win and free money (took loans without ever considering that she would actually have to pay them back) and thanks to lending policies in the late 90s and early 2000s got unmanagably into debt. When her boyfriend baled her out, instead of paying off the loans she bought a Mercedes Benz and expensive jewelry. As far as I could tell she wasn't malicious, she just had no concept of future planning.

Re:not entirely correct (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 3 months ago | (#45905675)

That sounds to me like the same philosophy behind massive national debts. As long as people are willing to lend you money, just keep borrowing and spending. Eventually, the time will come to pay it back, but if the debt is large enough, you'll never have to pay it all.

Re:not entirely correct (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#45905463)

Should be added that for most recipients the total of housing benefit received is less than the total rent and they are expected to make up any excess from their unemployment or disability living allowance payments (where 'rents' include standing charges such as power, heating, council tax anyway) - so even if the landlord has a defaulting tenant and gets direct payments from the local authority, they only receive the element of the total rent that relates to actual rent, and must pursue the tenant for the rest.

this system has caused many UK landlords to refuse to rent premises to recipients on housing benefit

The situation is even worse than that. My sister is moving abroad temporarily, and is trying to get her flat rented out while she's away. She was personally quite happy to have the property let to benefits claimants, but none of the letting agencies she spoke to were willing to do it.

The problem isn't simply that they don't get the money, it's that the regulations make it very difficult to get an HB tenant to leave. If they leave the property of their own accord, then they're no longer at involuntary risk of homelessness, and therefore no longer eligible for housing benefit. This means that if the rent burden becomes too high through change of circumstances (eg if a child leaves home, leading to a spare room becoming available -> bedroom tax) then even if they can find a property that their housing benefit would cover, they can't actually move there.

There is only one way to move out without risk of losing housing benefit, and that is to be evicted by court order, a process which is very time consuming, and ends up leaving the landlord going 6 months or so without any rental income.

Note that this is not a malicious move on the part of the tenants -- it is their only option. Because the law is a bachelor (of Arts, from Christ College Cambridge) and the law is an ass.

Re:not entirely correct (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905647)

No currently Housing benefit its paid directly to the Landlord UNLESS you are on the new universal credit which is the program being discussed.

I don't know what these would be called in the US but in the UK the benefits it is meant to replace are JSA ( jobseekers allowance) and ESA (employment support allowance ie deemed too ill to work) amongst others.

This scheme is so bad you are only currently placed on it if your claim is supposed to be straight forward. Despite the governments claim that over a million people would be on the new program it is estimated that around 300,000 are national and the staff are having to compute peoples payments by hand.

If your claim isnt straight forward you are still placed on Esa, Jsa etc.

The Government have been advised to scrap the entire thing and start again but for obvious political reasons are unwilling to do this as it was promoted as their Flagship benefits change policy so keep pumping more money into it.

Re:not entirely correct (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905733)

No, you're confusing Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance, an easy mistake to make since both are colloquially referred to as Housing Benefit.

Local Housing allowance is claimed by those living in Privately rented accommodation and the payments are usually made to the claimant, which can lead to the issues highlighted above.

Housing Benefit is claimed by those living in social housing and payments are usually paid directly to the landlord. However, with the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty arrears are rising in the social sector too. Whether one attributes this to fecklessness or to simply stretching a meager budget too far is another discussion completely.

Re:Really??? (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 months ago | (#45905351)

And why exactly should the government (ie those of us who pay tax) subsidise someone consuming drugs and alcohol?

The benefits system should provide an absolute baseline standard of living, ie it keeps you alive but you get absolutely no luxuries whatsoever. That means basic food nothing fancy, no car, no drugs/alcohol/tobacco, a room to sleep in with access to basic facilities, and access to education/training.

The benefits system is not there to provide a lifestyle, it is there to TEMPORARILY provide the bare essentials until you find another job. People should have to work if they want any kind of luxury items.

The amount of people on long term benefits, who have all manner of luxury goods is absolutely sickening. And i have yet to meet someone claiming benefits who doesn't smoke.

Re:Really??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905381)

And why exactly should the government (ie those of us who pay tax) subsidise someone consuming drugs and alcohol?

Without the coping benefits of drugs and alcohol, someone who can't find work is more likely to smash your smug moralizing face in, that's why. It's in society's best interest not to give the idle poor a good reason to be cranky and belligerent.

Re:Really??? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 months ago | (#45905549)

So don't allow them to be idle, if they're able to work then they should be working.. If they can't find a job through the normal channels then they should be required to study/train towards finding a job, or work community service.

Taxpayers shouldn't be paying for fit and able people to sit on their asses all day consuming drugs and alcohol. The rest of us don't have that much free time because we actually have to work!

Re:Really??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905659)

I see. Your moral outrage stems from your own envy because you don't get drugs and alcohol for free. I suggest you flog yourself.

Re:Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905703)

Your are not allowed to study - you are supposed to do 40 hours job search a week , if your studying then your not available for work and they sanction IE stop your unemployment benefit. Once you could do voluntary work in the community to gain experience and contacts etc. now you cant.

They are willing to pay private 'training' providers money to send you on CV writing courses and basic literacy / numeracy tests every six months because the providers can claim back up to £400 a person for each test from the EU.

Of course these schemes are classed as being in employment and reduce the jobless totals but don't even pay the national minimum wage.

Being a none smoker , tea total and never used drugs I have no idea how much £70 a week buys of the above products but knowing how much tax they put on cigarettes and alcohol in this country, I'm guessing not much.

Re: Really??? (1)

tleaf100 (2020038) | about 3 months ago | (#45905579)

ahh,nice to see how many /Âers have such a wide hands on experience of our wonderful benefits system. please show me a western country that does not have a percentage of its workable population as long term unemployed ? most folk who break into their rent payments do it for kids bills,such as new shoes,school trips,after school clubs and classes etc etc,you just hear about the scumbags,not the ordinary parents who have nowhere else left to turn in emergency with the end of crisis loans,which dwp allowed to be be very badly abused by a very small number of people as an excuse to just close the whole scheme,even though most folk paid them back. i suppose they could go the payday loan route and bankrupt themselves totaly,quicker. reminding folk again that high street banks still charge patday

Re:Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905455)

Oh, like a Victorian poorhouse? Hope you don't get ill or lose your job in your vision of the future.

Re:Really??? (1)

aethelrick (926305) | about 3 months ago | (#45905461)

While I feel the same as you on this point I am forced to acknowledge my experience of living in a country with no state benfits, the up-shot is this. The bumholes that defraud the benefit system on a long term basis and drug addicts picking up their state-funded high in our country are the same type of people that turn to (often violent) crime in countries where an effective benefit system does not exist. The simple truth of the matter is that having good social welfare systems in place keeps crime down.

Go live in Johannesburg for a few months and tell me which you would rather have

Think of it as modern Danegeld. Either the state buys Joe Schmoes new flat screen TV or he's comming to take yours :)

Re:Really??? (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 months ago | (#45905561)

Many of those taking drugs also turn to crime, even when they are claiming benefits. Either the benefits handout is insufficient to fund their habit or desired lifestyle, so they commit crime to supplement their handouts, or they commit violent crimes as a direct result of being out of their minds on drink/drugs.

As a taxpayer it makes little difference if the state buys him a tv or he steals mine, i end up paying for it either way.

Look at the arrogance of such people, they feel they have a divine right to have all these modern luxuries without having to work for them like everyone else does.

Re:Really??? (3, Informative)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 months ago | (#45905589)

'The bumholes that defraud the benefit system on a long term basis and drug addicts picking up their state-funded high'.
The implication of this government has always been that fraud is high.

However, their internal checks have consistently failed to find numbers matching this rhetoric.
Illness and disability benefits when checked find about 0.5% fraud. And about the same amount of awards due to staff error.

The implication of benefit fraud is being used to excuse a 20% reduction in eligibility for one disability benefit.

Fraud on job-seekers allowance is higher.

Re:Really??? (1)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 3 months ago | (#45905489)

Why should we all have to sub the bankers?

These things cut both ways, the people at the top cocked it up and those at the bottom are suffering.

Also, kindly remember all benefits are not paid to people who won't get a job, some are paid to people who can't, for valid medical reasons, why should they be condemned to a workhouse style existence in a modern civilised society*?

Think about it...

* I realise I'm stretching things a bit here...

Re:Really??? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 months ago | (#45905749)

We shouldn't sub the bankers either.

And sure, the system should be different for someone who has a genuine reason why they're unable to work...

Living with a genuine disability is very expensive, and yet the benefits available are being cut because there isn't enough money to go around. If you cut down on all the people falsely claiming disability benefits, and those claiming benefits because they are simply too lazy to work then a lot more help could be made available for those in genuine need.

Re:Really??? (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 3 months ago | (#45905497)

The benefits system is not there to provide a lifestyle, it is there to TEMPORARILY provide the bare essentials until you find another job. People should have to work if they want any kind of luxury items.

And if they don't find work, what then? Do you let them starve?

The amount of people on long term benefits, who have all manner of luxury goods is absolutely sickening.

This number is actually very small, and it constitutes the rare exception, not the rule.

Re:Really??? (4, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#45905517)

Have you ever been unemployed? Even are a month of it, it's mind-numbingly boring. You've got the jobcentre staff warning you that you've got to be available for work at any time, so you're not allowed to go anywhere interesting. So on the one hand we've got Iain Duncan Smith telling us that looking for a job "is a full-time job", but on the other, we're being denied the basic rights of full-time employees to paid leave. You've not got the money for lots of interesting things outside of the home, and when you amortise the cost of those "luxury goods" (games consoles, home entertainment systems etc) over the amount of time you're stuck in front of them, they're actually one of the cheapest ways of distracting you from the dull emptiness of your life.

The first time I was unemployed (over ten years ago), I had a job coming up, so I wasn't afraid to spend what I had. I looked for temporary work locally, but not having found any, I bought a book on playing blues and boogie-woogie piano, and taught myself. I bought a bunch of wood and parts and built myself an electric guitar. And it was also summer. I enjoyed that unemployment. This time round, though, I'm stuck in a house in a small village, isolated from any and all fun activities, in the middle of an unusually wet winter. My only real opportunity for social contact is the village pub, and I occupy my mind with the internet.

I'm trying to build up my skillset with the aid of the internet, but you have no idea how time just drags when you've go no externally-enforced routine. One day I can spend 13 or 14 hours working on my Python project, and the next I do nothing, because there's no defined "start point" to my day.

I'm not a heavy drinker, I'm not a smoker, I'm not a gambler and I'm not on drugs. I am a cyclist. If I was told that as an unemployed person I had no right to own both a £1000 road bike and a £500 touring bike, I would be upset. If you took it away from me, I would cease to function. It's very difficult for an unemployed person to give up their only comfort and escape, so no matter how bad that escape is, don't begrudge it to anyone.

Re:Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905615)

Look on the bright side: at least you can write Python code for 14 hours a day voluntarily instead of being forced to meet someone else's arbitrary deadline, and you have the freedom to get plenty of rest the next day. Good to hear you've been keeping busy. Sorry you're not as busy as you'd like to be.

Re:Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905641)

Why should you refuse to let someone eat and stay warm merely because it is possible they can consume drugs and alcohol?

Why should your employer subsidise your drug and alcohol consumption? They should not pay you wages at all!

Re:Really??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905725)

Your employer shouldn't have to pay wages as long as they provide you with free housing and free food. It'll be exactly like slavery, except we won't call it slavery because slavery is bad. We'll call it human resourcing!

Re:Really??? (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 months ago | (#45905379)

I note Iain Duncan Smith has said of the rise of use of food banks. 'Well - it's free - of course people will use it' - implying people not in need use them.
And it's been made general policy for local DWP staff to avoid giving reasons 'late payment of benefit' when referring people to food banks.

This makes it harder for the food banks to collect proper statistics.
This has lead to the government reporting rises at food banks as 'anecdotal' - because they have to ask the person turning up why they were referred.

Re:Really??? (2)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 3 months ago | (#45905543)

People started using food banks when food banks were introduced, which was years ago under Labour. The more food banks there are, the more people there will be using them to get free food. This is precisely what's happened. Given that the number of people using food bans rose under Labour too, was and still is simply a function of the number of new food banks being opened, it's a bit bloody idiotic for you to suggest it's Ian Duncan Smith's fault.

Re:Really??? (3, Insightful)

tubs (143128) | about 3 months ago | (#45905677)

So what you're saying, is that the only reason food banks are used, is that they are there?

Maybe the other way is more true? There was a need for food banks, so charities intorduced them, as more people need them, charities are introducing more?

Oh, and most food banks require a "voucher" that is given to the person from Drs, social workers etc, you can't just walk up yo a food bank and demand food.

point our crooked little fingers.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905215)

free the innocent stem cells end the WMD on credit cabals restore our honor & integrity

well this was (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905225)

totally unexpected! i mean, govt really does have better solutions and certainly knows best how you should conduct your life, such as what you should eat, who you should hire, where to get a mortgage, what type of light bulb you should use, what you should do with your trash, what you should learn in school, ad infinitum...

i'm shocked at this news - think of the children!

Re:well this was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905355)

Agreed. I, for one, always trust our corporate overlords with what I should do, how I should look, act and eat. They have my interests at heart because I vote with my wallet if they d....

Sorry, couldn't even finish. How do you people live like this? The cognitive dissonance must be overwhelming.

Re:well this was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905433)

Totally unexpected, because private industry (who were the ones hired to do the work) are paragons of efficiency and efficacy and are always and in all things better than government in any endeavour, since any failures mean that the company fails or the employees fired (impossible for civil servants on the "gravy train").

Shocked! Shocked and Appalled! (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905239)

Government IT project doesn't go to plan!

Can we start reporting on the IT projects that do come in on or under budget? Now something like that would be news!

Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905245)

Let's hope it prevents all the sponging bastards in this country who have the life of rielly at others expense getting anymore of the honest, hard working, peoples money!

Scrap the UK benefit system and make the lazy cunts work or

Re:Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905253)

It missed off my end themselves tag!

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905735)

Or get a job ending cunts like you! Sooner or later your job will be next unless you can compete for some one is compelled to work for £1.75 an hour or starve

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905279)

I assume you include the sick and disabled under your "lazy cunts" label?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905291)

Also, the people who lost their jobs because someone in the business embezzled everything

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905293)

Are you sure there are jobs to be filled? Are you really sure? Honest hard working people would prefer to do real work, not pointless jobs that don't need to be done. Shuffling papers in an office all day is not real work.

Wankers (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 3 months ago | (#45905247)

but they seem to be able to get a system together to monitor our global communications and do things the rich want to protect their failing business model.

Re:Wankers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905267)

How do you know they're not lying about how reliable their spying technology really is?

Re: Wankers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905423)

Because it was built in house not by the tax dodging likes of Accenture.
  It probably works fucking brilliantly.

Re:Wankers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905745)

Because it was leaked.

deeper! deeper!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905255)

Don't pull out too soon! I haven't cum yet!!

Alternative Summary: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905261)

4 major fortune 500 hundred companies who are major contributors to /. and the status quo have been marginalized by a government ministry's own in house IT staff, and therefore the major corporations are goings to demand that this disaster by put on the front page of /. /. will comply. We are in compliance with our corporate overlords.

Launched by DWP (4, Interesting)

Christianson (1036710) | about 3 months ago | (#45905277)

The article summary is a bit misleading. Universal Credit has from beginning to end been the child of the Department of Work and Pensions. The Government Digital Service, the in-house IT design expert office, is technically part of the Cabinet Office, but that's only because it's a centralised IT design service meant to serve all branches of the government. Also, the summary skips over the critical part of the article: the GDS is pulling out because the project is being run in direct contradiction with their own recommendations. Looking at the situation, it's difficult to apportion any part of the blame for the project troubles to the Cabinet Office; it seems to lie entirely on the shoulders of the DWP.

Re:Launched by DWP (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | about 3 months ago | (#45905747)

So it would be Iain Duncan Smith, for as far as I'm aware he has overall responsibility for the DWP.

information technology is technology failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905283)

In the post-IT world we will go back to using Post-its to track our welfare payments.

So they're drinking the agile pondwater? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#45905309)

Switching from large commercial providers using a disciplined time-tested development methodology, to a few (probably less-experienced) internal developers, using an ad-hoc "Agile" (probably undisciplined) software development methodology (that management probably just thought was cool). What could possibly go wrong?

To extend the current IT solution we will be using a standard waterfall delivery approach largely using existing suppliers and commercial frameworks, in order to de-risk delivery and ensure UC continues to have a safe and secure introduction. The end-state digital solution will be delivered using an agile, and therefore iterative, approach as advocated by the Cabinet Office with significantly less reliance on the large IT suppliers delivering the current UC IT service.”

Re:So they're drinking the agile pondwater? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 3 months ago | (#45905337)

Agile is hardly 'undisciplined'. There's also a lot to be said for 'fail early' when dealing with a project like this. That said, I would have thought they would have had a fairly defined and static set of requirements for a project like this, making waterfall a possibility.

Re:So they're drinking the agile pondwater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905439)

But you know the Governments implementation of Agile will be 'undisciplined' and they will need water to flow uphill at some point until the back pressure is sufficient to sink it.

Re:So they're drinking the agile pondwater? (3, Informative)

Rande (255599) | about 3 months ago | (#45905507)

Defined and Static? You've not worked for a govt project then?

Benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905327)

It all depends upon what investment rate has been decided-upon. 0.5% is good enough for us plebes while 25% is good enough for credit card companies,

Re:Benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905349)

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Oh no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905361)

UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble? Oh no - what will the niggers do?

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905435)

Eat the rich. Honkies taste like pork.

Re: Oh no (-1, Offtopic)

tleaf100 (2020038) | about 3 months ago | (#45905617)

ha,if we are going for the rich,then i am afraid our black dealers round here have a very short life span... do negros taste like burnt pork ?

Re:Oh no (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 months ago | (#45905681)

Eat the rich. Honkies taste like pork.

You mean they'll just have to live on crackers!
Maybe they'll throw in the odd coconut for variety.

Immigrants... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905365)

Allowing millions of non-white immigrants into a previously all white country might have something to do with the problem of unemployment benefits too...

Re:Immigrants... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905529)

You ignorant, inbread white-trash fucking idiot. Just blame it on immigrant
- submitted by a British, 2nd generation immigrant

Re:Immigrants... (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#45905539)

You do realise, don't you, that the history of non-white immigration goes back almost a millenium (first recorded instances in the 12th century) whereas the history of unemployment benefits basically starts with the Beveridge Report in 1942...?

Re: Immigrants... (1, Flamebait)

tleaf100 (2020038) | about 3 months ago | (#45905661)

it dont help with all the WHITE ones either. they all want our few jobs. eastern europeans have done far more damage to us in much shorter time,their smarter,more savvy and close to home and can easily pre plan and prepare fake ids,fake firms you name it,if its bent,they have a finger in it,cash goes out of this country very quickly,their here for three years and go home very well off.i watch them at it all day everyday round here.

As usual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905491)

Communism and socialism always fail. Why exactly dumb Britain should be exception?

Anybody here think they could do better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905527)

They have a budget of 2 Billion pounds.

You could hire 100 of the best programmers in the world and give them all $1M/year salaries, and you would be nowhere near the budget.

Obvious troll article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905569)

Obvious political troll article is obvious...

IDS vs. Tony Blair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45905613)

Interesting to see iain Duncan smith leading this effort. He might be known to Americans who used to see him on Prime Ministers Questions on CSPAN back in the early 2000s debating Tony Blair. Both were fantastic debaters, and there was nothing more satisfying than watching those two engage in the debate version of mutually assured destruction. That was my favorite show on the TV during that time, and I learned a lot about British politics. I can only wish we had something similar in the US. The guys doing PMQ now are a joke compared to Duncan smith/ Blair. An even bigger joke are the American presidential debates.

As planned (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 3 months ago | (#45905639)

It is meant to be an abject failure so the Torries can dump it entirely and replace it with the issuing of bootstraps.

The Rand / Koch movement is not just for domestic US implementation.

Seems reasonable? (2)

rabtech (223758) | about 3 months ago | (#45905741)

I may be misunderstanding, but it appears that the existing contractors are using old-school waterfall. Gee, government contractors using a heavily-specs-oriented approach, when has that gone wrong?

The new idea seems to be having a team of smaller players use an agile approach to deliver the real system.

Any time you can get a group of smaller developers doing rapid iterations with the government it's a miracle... It is also vastly more likely to deliver something decent and on-budget.

Anytime I see HP, IBM, Agilent, et al winning a contract for some government system I automatically assume it will be an epic fail.

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