Universal Credit scheme will waste 140m, according to MPs

07 - 11 - 2013

The implementation of the government’s welfare reform has been severely criticised by MPs, who have described it as ‘extraordinarily poor’.

In a report by the Public Accounts Committee, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) was accused of ‘alarmingly weak’ management of the overhaul and a ‘shocking lack of control’ over suppliers.
Failures in the management of the scheme are expected to waste £140m of public money.
Ministers have claimed that the plan to replace six means-tested, working-age benefits and tax credits into one single payment is back on track after a ‘reset’ of the programme at the beginning of the year.
The scheme is designed to increase incentives for work and save an estimated £38bn by 2023.
‘Extensive delay’
Chair of the committee, Margaret Hodge said: ‘The failure to develop a comprehensive plan has led to extensive delay and the waste of a yet-to-be-determined amount of public money.’
‘£425m has been spent so far…It is likely that much of this, including at least £140m of IT assets, will now have to be written off.’
Hodge criticised the Department of Work and Pensions for ‘failing to grasp the nature and enormity of the task’.
She also said that the department had ‘failed to monitor and challenge progress regularly’ and ‘when problems arose, failed to intervene promptly’.
Alleging that the pilot programme is not a proper pilot, Hodge said: ‘It does not deal with the key issues that universal credit must address: the volume of claims; their complexity; change in claimants’ circumstances; and the need for claimants to meet conditions for continuing entitlement to benefit.’

‘Substantially less’
A spokesperson for the DWP said that the report does not take into account the department’s new leadership team or its progress on delivery.

‘We have already taken comprehensive action including strengthening governance, supplier management and financial controls.'
She claimed that the DWP does not recognise the write-off figure quoted by the committee and expects this to be ‘substantially less’.






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