September 11th, 2013

Margaret Hodge and Streamlined Benefit Payments

Another day and another chance for Margaret Hodge to enjoy some prime-time grilling at the Public Accounts Committee. Today it is the turn of DWP Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux, who is set to be hauled over the coals over Universal Credit. Deveraux’s career rests on whether he can explain why he signed off £34 million on abandoned IT systems and disprove allegations that he oversaw a culture of secrecy at his department that stopped civil servants giving politicians the whole picture. Fingers are being pointed at the mandarin, though Labour are adamant that IDS should be blamed instead. 

Hodge would be wise to remember that her party had problems of their own in government when it comes to benefit reform. In 2006 they cancelled a similar plan to streamline payments through the Benefits Processing Replacement Programme, but only after they had spent £140 million on IT for this “key strategic initiative”. They later had to admit they had somehow managed to spend another £10 million on it after the programme had been cancelled. So who was the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform at the time? Step forward Margaret Hodge.


  1. 1

    At some point the people she is questioning will throw her hypocrisy back at her. She has no authority on any of this because of her past actions.


  2. 2
    "Stenographer" says:

    She needs to wind her neck in.

    It’s probably because of her track record of incompetence and hypocrisy that she’s so quick to blame others at these committee hearings


    • 5
      Simon B says:

      Typical Labour “politician”, blaming everyone else. Fucking commies. Shame she isn’t being grilled by the great IDS. He’d rip her a new one lol!


      • 39
        superman says:

        IDS? The totally incompetent Tory Leader? Like Hague a failure as leader But given a job by Dave. So why is Dave surrounding himself with proven failures?


  3. 3
    Pollytwaddle says:

    The woman has not a single redeeming feature.

    Unless, of course, someone finally exposes the be-atch and the hypocritical doing of herself and the previous government.


  4. 4
    Simon B says:

    All benefits of any kind should be stopped immediately and the DWP abolished. As a high-rate taxpayer (which I resent), it is not my job to provide you with free money if you’re pathetic enough to lose your job. Why should MY MONEY go to support feckless oldies who failed to invest with a private pension fund and provide for themselves? Why should a penny of my hard-earned investment profits go to so-called “disabled” people who think the state owes them a living just because they’re too monged or deformed to be hired for a job?

    We spend too much time and money protecting the weak. This is subverting nature and placing a burden on wealth-producers and productive people like me. Can’t find a job? Tough. Nobody will give you a job because you’re “disabled” and would rather hire productive able-bodied people? Boo-hoo. If you want communism, go to Cuba.


    • 6
      Jabba Le Chat says:




      • 7
        Simon B says:

        Sorry, no “lolz” here. I’m deadly serious, Jabba. The welfare state is mainly responsible for Britain’s decline. Before it, people had the threat of starvation to keep them from being feckless. Now we give all of them million-pound houses, free plasma TVs with Sky and four holidays a year, FACT. The welfare state needs to be destroyed completely.


    • 21
      Maximus says:

      Tell us what you really mean – euthanasia for oldies, the jobless and any others “subverting nature”?


    • 32
      Elvis says:

      5 weeks off retirement, having just been dismissed by the multinational company I worked for because my wife has cancer and I asked for some flexibility over my hours to look after her.

      I have private pension, but also state pension THAT I HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO ALL MY WORKING LIFE. I need state pension to top up my private pension. In your world I and my wife would be expected to starve to reduce the surplus mouths ( A la Scrooge in Christmas Carol)

      Either you are a troll (in which case your are neither clever nor funny) or an absolutely worthless piece of flesh not worthy of being described as a human being. I hope in either case that your words come back to bite you.


      • 34
        Simon B says:

        Who cares if you contributed all your life to what you thought would be a state pension? NI is a ponzi scheme, more fool you! The fact remains that part of your pension is MY MONEY you are taking off me.

        And good on your employer for not giving you flexibility. It’s not their problem your wife has cancer. When you work for someone, they’re doing YOU a favour and you should do as you’re told. Typical commie thinking the world owes them something.

        Also, nice bit of name calling. Shows you’ve already lost the argument. You obviously failed at capitalism: didn’t save enough to not need to scrounge off the productive members of society.


    • 40
      superman says:

      You are confusing receiving money with earning money. Like BBC Trust. Ran by Top Tory Patten. Top rate taxpayers in my extensive experience are not worth the money they get. Patten and Wayne Rooney are prime examples


  5. 8
    BBC Head of HR says:

    I did/did not* write that memo.

    I do/do not* remember writing it.

    * delete as most convenient


    • 15
      B. Boyd says:

      Beeboids fibbing? Surely not! You’ll be telling me next it’s full of people with strange predilections.


  6. 10
    Sir William Waid says:

    This Devereux chap has a degree in maths but cannot, it seems, do sums.

    I hope at least he comes to a better end than my ancestor’s old chum Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, in 1601. In those days they literally gave people the chop!


    • 14
      Casual Observer says:

      It is about time some of the civil service was given a spring clean.

      The civil service is not there to set policy, but to implement it.

      Devereux is relatively low hanging fruit.


  7. 11
    Point of Information 5 says:


    Obama’s Syr!a speech:

    Promotes US ‘exceptionalism’ (a swipe the falsely ‘isolationism’ accusers ?), sets the scene for humanitarian over military intervention, but leaves military firmly on the table. Continues to claim Assad responsible.

    The US threat must paradoxically remain very credible and present in order for the UN motion to go through. There is a problem with this.

    The no US boots pledge indicates that the US will not be involved directly in managing Syr!an CW inventory or overseeing its destruction within Syr!a. Otherwise this is false.

    Nice article from J!mmy Carter with a hat tip to the UK:


    Importantly spells out the dangers of delay.

    This raises a further problem for Obama’s strategy of keeping the military option on the table. Whilst the UN process is ongoing, it the credibility of the military option is being degraded.

    An issue not raised thus far is whether the destruction of Syr!a’s CW stockpiles would set a precedent for other governments to offset the costs of destroying theirs onto the international community.

    This is a question that should be considered carefully, as the cost and responsibility of safe disposal should be born by the government which acquired the weapons in the first place.

    Transferring this responsibility and cost is a fundamental moral hazard, which could itself undermine some aspects of the doctrine of non-proliferation.


    • 17
      Sir William Waid says:

      Not much of a Commander-in-Chief, eh? “I might want you brave boys and girls to do something, but not very much, exactly what I don’t know – er – and by the way you might be prosecuted if it goes a bit wrong…, anyway, I’ll let you know but, really, I am really cross!”


      • 23
        Point of Information 5 says:

        As a Commander In Chief some may say he has failed spectacularly in that he surrendered before leaving the tent for battle.

        Those recriminations will be laid on thickly when the current situation is past.

        Of more interest is what effect this will have on DoD budgets, particularly in the light of debt ceiling and sequesters.

        Obama will be buried completely when the real terms reductions in US Military budget are realized, and it is his poor red line rhetoric is scapegoated.

        That though is a battle for later this month.


        • 28
          Dr Strangelove says:

          Putin is looking like a statesman whereas the others are looking a bit childish.
          but if just for a minute you imagine that Obama is a CIA creation and the gas is a CIA stunt then you would expect him to say that.


      • 24
        Barak Obama says:

        Anything less than regime change is just revenge or punishment and punishment or revenge is something we liberals don’t believe in.
        That’s why we are against corporal and capital punishment in our own countries.
        But I soooo want to bomb Syria.
        What’s a girl to do?


  8. 19
    Blue Eyes says:

    We invest, they spend, you waste.


  9. 26
    Anonymous says:

    Stemcor trades about 20m tons of steel annually. Last year sales totalled £6.2bn.

    It was plunged into crisis in May after defaulting on $1.2bn (£774m) of loans, but the banks — more than 80 in total — threw it a lifeline. They granted a payment holiday until September 16.

    Better sell the shares Maggie.


  10. 29
    Sir Mary Flappes says:

    She has the terrible mange.


  11. 30
    WoRaft ChIHUAHua says:

    How come, with all this money washing down the drain, I never get offered any of it? I can do at least as useless a job for a fraction of the money, so by hiring me to write a non-functioning system, the taxpayer would be saved millions.


  12. 35
    The Admiral says:

    The thing I like about Guido is he is sooo much deeper than the DM.


  13. 38
    Anonymous says:

    “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field” Niels Bohr  
    Hodge is clearly extremely well-qualified for the PAC role.


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