IDS' much vaunted Welfare reforms have always been regarded with huge disappointment by this blog. With all the best intentions, he has merely replaced a centralist, bureaucratically moribund, top heavy, expensive and inefficient system with an alternative centralist, bureaucratically moribund, top heavy, expensive and inefficient system. Like a Great War general, Duncan-Smith has sacrificed billions for an advance of a few inches.
Toynbee almost tells the truth this morning when she states "Voters think two sensible things about benefits: citizens needing help should be well cared-for and the healthy should be deterred from malingering". You just need to modify the word 'well' to 'adequately'. The cracks appearing in IDS' reforms result from a sensible assessment that they will achieve neither aim.
You simply cannot design a universal Welfare system from the top, as IDS has tried to do. You can't do it.
Welfare, above all things, must be local. IDS would have done better to throw the 10,000 page benefits manuals out of the window and simply allocate the entire benefits budgets to local offices with total discretion to distribute it as they thought fit. Seriously. Welfare recipients also need to be more 'visible'. Currently, the person who gives them money is a vague 'they' completely unconnected with their neighbours, their local traders or the driver of the bus that takes them to the Post Office. Administering Welfare payments and benefits at the most local level would target resources to those truly in need, be flexible enough to vary with changing circumstances and above all eliminate free riders. A fraudulent IB claimant may fool the benefits assessors but they can't kid their neighbours for very long.
IDS had his chance and he blew it.