May 22, 2014
Following the departure of Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions has awarded the contract for conducting Work Capability Assessments to ‘Benefits Enforcement Droid’ model IDS-209.
The droid, manufactured by Omni Consumer Products, was originally intended for law enforcement and is armed with three auto cannons, one auto shotgun and a rocket launcher.
‘Yes, technically it is a killer robot,’ said DWP minister Esther McVey, ‘but IDS-209 has been programmed to use its weapons in only the most extreme circumstances. So long as everyone complies with its requests there really shouldn’t be any problems.’
In future, applicants will be expected to sit before the droid, who will scan their benefits claim. If IDS-209 is in any way dissatisfied with the application, it will make the request: ‘Please withdraw your claim. You have 20 seconds to comply.’ At this point, faced with an arsenal of lethal weaponry pointing directly at them, most claimants are expected to then drop their claim and go home.
However, critics of the scheme have pointed to early trials of the droid in which a number of applicants did as requested and withdrew their claims, but were then faced with the message: ‘You have 10 seconds to comply…,’ then, ‘You have 5 seconds to comply,’ before IDS-209 opened fire and blew them out of the window.
‘Of course these incidents are regrettable,’ said Ms McVey, ‘but if we ignore the human tragedy and look at it in purely monetary terms then this droid is already paying for itself.’
The droid’s designer, Dr McNamara has admitted that IDS-209 does have some limitations. ‘It has weak logic circuits and it cannot process information very quickly,’ he said. ‘Also, it has no concept of compassion or human empathy, which is probably why it was awarded the contract in the first place.’
IDS-209 will be rolled out from next month and will also be making house calls. ‘It still has trouble getting through doorways,’ said Ms McVey, ‘so for the time being it will be entering people’s homes by smashing through the outside wall and conducting its assessments amid the rubble. Needless to say, if anyone tries to run away it only goes to show they are fit for work.’
‘The benefits system should be about incentivising people,’ said the Work and Pensions Secretary, ‘and by placing benefits on the tops of mountains we are encouraging the unemployed to get off their backsides and make a bit more of an effort.’
Under the new system all benefit payments will be hidden somewhere on the top of a high peak. ‘It could be on Mount Snowdon; it could be Scafell Pike,’ explained Mr Duncan Smith. ‘That’s the fun of the system. And just to keep people on their toes, sometimes there won’t be any benefit at all.’
The Work and Pensions Secretary assured that people with disabilities would get extra help. ‘We have already fitted ramps to a number of mountains to give wheelchair access. Meanwhile those nice people from Atos will be on hand to observe claimants struggling up and down the hill tops and will be making on-the-spot assessments. If any of them look capable of reaching their benefits they will automatically be declared fit for work and become ineligible.’
Meanwhile, people suffering from clinical depression will be allowed to forgo the mountain altogether and collect their benefits from the depths of an abyss.
‘We have already spent over £2 billion on this project,’ explained Mr Duncan Smith. ‘That might seem like a lot of money but some areas of Britain are so deprived they don’t have a mountain to climb up. Whole swathes of Norfolk for example. That’s why we’re forcing the unemployed to build artificial mountains for the unemployed. So don’t say we never do anything for them.’
According to statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions, 123% of people forced to climb up a mountain to look for benefits quickly found work. ‘I know these statistics are true,’ said Mr Duncan Smith, ‘I made them up myself.’
Asked why he seemed to be so hell-bent on dismantling the welfare state, the Work and Pensions Secretary smiled enigmatically and said, ‘because it’s there.’