‘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.’
‘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.’