‘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.’