What would you do if you were a politician and responsible for a government initiative that is running well over budget; that charities, housing organisations, local government, the media, opposition parties and even your own MPs are telling you is causing extreme hardship, the rise in the use of food banks, and a massive increase in rent arrears?
What would you do if all of them were urging you to slow down, pause, and look at the negative consequences of this initiative?
This initiative is Universal Credit.
How did the secretary of state for work and pensions, David Gauke, respond? He said that Universal Credit “is working” and the roll-out “will continue and to the planned timetable”.
The Minister must be arrogant, deluded or ill-informed.
Frank Field MP, who chairs of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said: “David Gauke has today pressed the button that will cause havoc to hundreds of thousands of poorer people’s lives, building up to a meltdown over Christmas.
“It is not too late for him to act politically wisely as well as compassionately. People must be put before arbitrary roll-out dates of a project which cannot work.”
I have asked before for any of my Conservative friends to defend the record of the government in respect of Universal Credit, but to date none has. I widen the challenge: could someone, anyone, defend the decision of David Gauke to carry on in spite of all the evidence that should be available to him?