Yesterday we blogged the government's so-called reform package for the dire Child Support Agency. We've now got some more detail, and we can see just what hopeless pie in the sky it actually is.
First, although John Hutton told us he would be using private debt collection agencies to recoup some of that £3.3bn outstanding debt, it seems nobody bothered to ask- or even speak to- the agencies thenmselves. And guess what- they're not at all keen on the idea:
'Kurt Obermaier, executive director of the Credit Services Association, which represents debt collectors, said that the proposal was “like being handed a poisoned chalice. We are concerned that the Government wants to rid of its problems by passing them on to someone else — us."
So er...sounds like they'll want a great deal more than the £30m Hutton has set aside to pay them. That is, if they actually agree to do it at all.
And second, the "expert" Hutton has appointed to draw up his "clean sheet of paper" reform plan has until now presided over one of Britain's worst performing local councils. Sir David Henshaw is the former chief executive of Liverpool City Council, an organisation whose waste and incompetence was legendary even before the Ayatollah of Waste arrived. Here's how the Audit Commission currently places Liverpool in the local authority quality rankings:
- Star rating: bottom 32%
- Direction of Travel (ie getting better or worse): bottom 30%
- Value For Money: bottom 2%!!!
So faced with a massive problem of waste and inefficiency, the government is seeking advice from someone whose own organisation is among the country's very worst for waste and inefficiency.
Hutton yesterday accused his critics of being "intellectually bankrupt". Such a term does not even begin to describe the government's own outrageous vacuity.