‘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 are also building 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.’