Universal Credit: MPs Say, Not Such a Brilliant Wheeze After all.
Iain Duncan Smith Reacts to Criticism.
We are really getting into reading Welfare Weekly at the moment.
This is their latest:
“The Department for Work and Pensions has spent £700 million on Universal Credit since the programme began in 2010.
“However, very little progress has been achieved on the front line. Fewer than 18,000 people were claiming Universal Credit by October 2014, out of around seven million expected in the longer term – just 0.3% of the eligible population.
We hope the Department’s expectation that this number will rise significantly by February 2016 proves to be accurate.
“As the Department has justified this spending on the promise of benefits in the future – such as from higher employment – rather than on the actual delivery of benefits to date, we simply cannot judge the value for money of this expenditure at this stage.
“The IT infrastructure for Universal Credit continues to be of particular concern. The Department has spent £344 million with suppliers developing its ‘live’ service systems for claimants who have straightforward initial claims which do not involve all 6 benefits, yet it expects to re-use just £34 million worth of this IT in the longer term.
(NOTE as we all know thanks to Ipswich Unemployed Action posters)
“The live systems are technically limited and expensive to operate because they require manual intervention. The Department is developing and testing a new digital service, which it intends will deliver Universal Credit to all types of claimant in the long term.
“In the meantime it has adopted a ‘twin-track approach’ – running the two separate systems in parallel. This is complicated and expensive. The Department believes this will bring forward the anticipated benefits of the programme but it must ensure it does not allow the mixed, two-track approach to continue for longer than is required.
“Both the Department and HM Treasury now regard the live service as the programme’s de facto contingency, even though the Major Projects Authority told us last year that it doubted those systems were capable of handling the full range of claimants.
“The Department ‘reset’ the programme in early 2013 following a Major Projects Authority review which expressed serious concerns about the programme lacking detailed plans, and it has now put Universal Credit on a sounder footing. Since the reset, however, the Department has already fallen a further six months behind schedule for developing the digital service.
“The Office for Budget Responsibility already assumes a further six month delay to the digital service in its independent estimates, and the Major Projects Authority recently gave the programme an amber-red rating.
More on Welfare Weekly site.
Latest Progress Report on Universal Credit here.
I for one am really really not looking forward to this change.
Plus Crapita have got their oar in….