Government welfare cap policy will cost more than it saves
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Regulation
IDS benefit cap
The government's new welfare cap will cost more than it saves, it was revealed today.
The Department of Work and Pensions will be rolling out the controversial caps this autumn, when the UK's 5.4 million working-age benefit claimants will be expected to wear them when out in public.
But costs have sky-rocketed after the first two million caps had to be recalled after stitching came apart. The government has been accused of making the caps on the cheap by using benefit cheats currently serving in British prisons. But they will now be outsourced to the hat wear division of Capita at a cost of £300 million.
Much of the cost is due to the new technology being deployed. Tiny probes will be inserted into the peak of each cap which provide the government with vital data including where the benefit claimant is and whether they are under-occupying their house.
The black baseball caps, which feature the wording 'Work sets you free', are part of the government's new stigmitisation policy which sets out to shame people off benefits as quickly as possible, even if they are sick, disabled or in low-paid work.
The baseball cap design was chosen after a national competition involving thousands of school children. Other designs included a balaclava, an Easter bonnet and even an iron mask. The winner was five-year-old Felicity Ffeiffel-Phillips from St Onions School in Witney, Oxfordshire.
A prototype cap, worn by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was recently sold at auction for £130,000. The money raised will go to flood victims in Conservative constituencies and pensioners.
Ignoring the spiralling costs of the project, a DWP spokesman said: "The caps are excellent news for the hardworking British taxpayer. We felt the only way hardworking families could really identify benefit scroungers was to make them wear the new caps. That way we know who they are, they know who they are and it becomes a lot easier to vilify and condemn them on a person by person basis.
"In addition to universal credit, we see this as the perfect solution to getting people back into work."
Labour MPs have attacked the cap as they fear it could become a much sought-after "badge of honour" for benefit claimants. They have pushed for a less fashionable flat cap design, a token nod to the party’s long forgotten trade union roots.
"This does nothing to address the cost of living crisis," a spokesman pertinently said.
The DWP said a plan to make spare-bedroom hoarders wear pyjamas had been shelved for the time being. A clothes manufacturer in Bangladesh which won the contract to make the two-piece striped sleepwear was struggling to deliver on time and budget after its factory collapsed.