‘We have discovered a single man claiming housing benefit for a property that appears to have an infinite number of spare rooms,’ said Benefits Officer Kimberley Smalls. ‘He is therefore liable for the most severe under-occupancy penalty.’
The decision means the Doctor faces significant cuts to his housing benefit and he may be forced to leave the TARDIS and move to a one-bedroom flat in Neasden.
The spot check by housing benefit officers found that the Doctor has far more ‘spare rooms’ in his 1960s police box than was previously thought. These include a sick bay, an observatory, a library, a secondary control room, several squash courts, an ancillary power station, a swimming pool and an attic.
‘This is quite simply a question of fairness,’ said government minister Esther McVey. ‘It is totally unacceptable for a single man such as the Doctor to be living in a property with so many spare rooms – a property that could be used by a much larger family.’
The Time Lord, who has been living in the Type 40 Mark 1 TARDIS for over 900 years, is appealing the decision on the grounds that his ‘spare rooms’ only exist in extra dimensions of space and time that are not covered by the Welfare Act. However, legal experts say his chances of success are about as likely as a Cyberman winning The Voice by singing I Will Always Love You.
Housing benefit officers are also looking into allegations that the Doctor failed to declare periods of time when he was co-habiting with an assistant. ‘He has a statutory duty to inform us of any changes to his circumstances,’ said Ms Smalls who is also investigating claims of identity fraud. ‘Our records indicate the Doctor may have changed identities on at least twelve different occasions. He claims that he remains the same person; we shall see what the courts have to say about that.’
If his appeal is rejected the Doctor may be evicted from the TARDIS as early as next month, which could seriously interfere with his work saving the planet from alien invasion. ‘I had previously thought the Daleks were the most hate-fuelled creatures in the universe, unable to feel pity, remorse or compassion,’ said the Doctor, ‘but even they wouldn’t do this to me.’
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 current system of cock-ups is complicated and confusing,’ said the Work and Pensions Secretary. ‘Even I have trouble keeping track of them all. That’s why I have decided to create a new system to unify all my cock-ups into one monumental cock-up – something that everyone can understand’.
The Universal Cock-Up will cost an estimated £2bn to implement and is due to be rolled out next year. However, given that it is being organised by Mr Duncan Smith, experts say it is more likely to cost £200bn and never happen at all.
The new system will create an extensive database of all Iain Duncan Smith’s failures: departmental mismanagement, making up statistics, cruel treatment of benefit claimants with disabilities, illegally forcing people to work in Poundland, a jobs website that hosts fake jobs, and once writing a really terrible novel.
‘I have every confidence that the Universal Cock-Up will be delivered on time and on budget,’ said Mr Duncan Smith. ‘I have already commissioned the very latest state-of-the-art IT system to run it: a Sinclair ZX 81. Nothing can possibly go wrong, although admittedly we are having some teething troubles getting the cassette player to load the software.’
Mr Duncan Smith has also arranged for himself to be constantly monitored by Atos, who will conduct a continuous assessment of his inability to do the job properly and ensure that he is always doing everything he possibly can to do everything possibly wrong.
The Universal Cock-Up is already being heralded as one of the government’s flagship policies. If the scheme is a success, it may be extended to all government departments, although Michael Gove has insisted on keeping his pet project of taxpayer funded ‘free cock-ups’.
Mr Duncan Smith rejected claims that the whole thing was yet another failure waiting to happen for which he would refuse to accept responsibility. ‘I am sick and tired of this constant culture of blame,’ he told reporters, ‘and it’s all YOUR fault.’
‘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.’