One of the biggest problems a government has to face when in power is bureaucratic inertia, wher change, assuming it comes at all is slow and often impeded by civil servants unhappy with a direction that such changes are going in. It was in Yes Minister I believe that the hapless Minister described the civil service as ‘the enemy’ whilst the opposition was merely that, the opposition. So it comes as no surprise that Ian Duncan Smith is finding the going tough with entrenched civil service opposition on welfare reform, it being riddled with liberal leftists with odd ideas about just whose money pays for the benefits system…


Senior civil servants have been accused of blocking the Government’s flagship plans to overhaul Britain’s welfare system.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is reported to have been shocked at reports that the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood is sceptical about the shake-up.
Treasury officials are also said to be dragging their feet over the proposals, which will simplify welfare payments by introducing a new universal credit.
Friends of Mr Duncan Smith fear that Whitehall reluctance to push through the reforms could put them at risk.
One Whitehall source said: ‘Treasury officials are the real problem. They are a law unto themselves and do what they please.’
Chancellor George Osborne is reported to have wanted Mr Duncan Smith sacked in the recent reshuffle. But he refused to be moved and is determined to see through the reforms.
The Universal Credit, due to be introduced next year, will replace six benefits including jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit.

The very simplification of the system no doubt worries the mandarins who judge success by the size of their departments, as opposed to ‘industry’ which judges by efficiency and profits. No doubt there will be some shedding of jobs as six systems merge into one and the union dominated public services will hate that. Yet there appears to be no doubt in the public’s mind that such reforms are necessary as a recent survey, conducted by NatCen, a social research group appears to show.

Benefits for the unemployed are supposed to be a safety net, not a comfort zone, it simply is not acceptable for anyone who is unemployed to be better off owing to benefits than someone who works, not even at the minimum wage level. For those who are sick and elderly I can accept a comfort zone, provided of course that the sick really are sick and not just re-assigned from unemployment statistics to lower the figures.

So all in all I consider the reforms by Ian Duncan Smith as a good start and whilst I expect teething troubles, some unforeseen, some by enemy action he has my support in this. Where he doesn’t go far enough though is denying benefits to those who have come here as immigrants. If you were not born here or paid into the system then the system should be denied to you, a bond of a certain amount ought to be laid down by immigrants before citizenship is allowed cover in health and benefits, paid back (without interest) after 10 years, no-one coming here should get a free ride, you pay in, work or leave.

Sadly that’s not going to happen under any mainstream government, at least not at the next general election.

In the meantime the government struggle on against the enemy who don’t have inconvenient elections and changes of personnel to put up with, it still remains to be seen who will win…

5 comments for “Inertia/Opposition

  1. Greg Tingey
    September 17, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Oh for another Roy Jenkins!

    Why do I say that?
    Because of the way, when he was Home Secretary, he dealt with the foot-dragging and deliberate almost point-blank refusal to obey legitimate instruction he got from the mandarinate over a (posthumous) pardon for Tinothy Evans ….

  2. September 17, 2012 at 9:50 am

    entrenched civil service opposition on welfare reform, it being riddled with liberal leftists with odd ideas

    Got it in one, QM.

  3. ivan
    September 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Simple answer, call in top guy and tell him he has three weeks to implement change if not he is sacked, no pension.

    When nothing happens, sack him and call in next guy, give him same conditions.

    Repeat as necessary.

    • Greg Tingey
      September 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      THAT is exactly what Jenkins did to the permanent secretary at the Home Office, in fact – he backed down at almost the last second, when it finally penetrated that Jenkins really meant it!

  4. john in cheshire
    September 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Ivan, yes it sounds simple. In reality it just won’t happen. Firsly, you need your boss’s support (Mr Cameron) to do that and he’d most likely sack Mr Duncan-Smith rather than do something sensible regarding the Civil Service. Secondly, just imagine the bbc’s reaction; they’d have a field day and probably foment so much discord that the government would be brought down. And in doing so, would further entrench the position of senior Civil Servants. Thirdly, I suspect that MPs are not able to sack Civil Servants and therefore the culprit could only be side-lined. He’s still be there spewing his mischief behind the scenes by virtue of the influence he will no doubt have acquired over the many years that he’s been immersed in this subversive organisation. Any moderate success that Mr D-S achieves will be despite the Civil Service, and therefore to be greatly applauded, however minor.

Comments are closed.