War and Peace and benefits regulations

28 October 2016
What was claimed

The manual for certain benefits is three times the size of War and Peace.

Our verdict

This is right on one measure. Guidance for officials on administering JSA and Income Support has three times as many pages as the novel’s first edition.

“In the specific benefit that is discussed in your film which affects the protagonist, the manual for that is three times the size of War and Peace”

Dia Chakravarty, 27 October 2016

Ms Chakravarty is apparently talking about Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support, and referring to the guidance for DWP staff on making decisions and handling appeals for these benefits.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance found this guidance comes in at some 3,500 pages, adding together each volume, about three times the number in the first edition of Tolstoy’s tome.

The guidance is hardly the dense text of an epic novel, but the point here is that it’s remarkably detailed, and that much is clear. And this is just the guidance for one part of the benefits system.

The documents are designed so that DWP staff are aware of laws, regulations and cases that affect how people should be assessed for and paid their entitlements, among other things. “It helps them make decisions that are accurate and consistent”, according to the government.

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