Judge questions the ‘disappearance' of Universal Credit

  • A senior tribunals judge has thrown doubt over the future of universal credit as it has "disappeared" from Department for Work and Pensions forecasts on the number of predicted appeals. Gavel 3

    Judge Robert Martin has queried whether universal credit "might prove just too impracticable to implement in full" reports 24dash.

    Judge Martin revealed in the Judicial Information Bulletin, that the DWP is no longer predicating that there will be any universal credit appeals between now and 2019. He states that in its April 2013 forecast the DWP expected there to be 1,355 universal credit appeals in 2013-14 and 77,926 universal credit appeals in 2014-15. However, by the end of March this year there had been only three appeals.

    "The unhappy development of UC has been recorded in reports from the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee," Judge Martin writes. "The Secretary of State has not moved from the original planned end-date of 2017 for the completion of implementation. In its April 2013 forecast DWP estimated that HMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service) would receive 1,355 UC appeals in 2013-14 and 77,926 UC appeals in 2014-15. By March 31 2014, HMCTS had actually received three. In later forecast reports, 'universal credit appeals' had disappeared as an entry. Universal credit, which was heralded by DWP as delivering £35 billion of savings, might prove just too impracticable to implement in full."

    In a statement, a DWP spokesperson said: "This is one judge's personal opinion who we understand has now retired and it is not the usual judicial role to discuss government policy in this way. Aside from that, these assertions are wrong as they are based on an outdated timetable that no longer exists. Universal credit is already operating in 10 areas across the country and further expansion in the North West will start this month as planned.  UC is already making work pay as we roll it out in a careful and controlled way and jobseekers are benefiting from the positive impacts of help from a work coach, more digital facilities in jobcentres, and a written agreement setting out what they will do to find work. In early 2013 we instigated a shift in the delivery plan and updated appeals figures will be provided to HMCTS in due course."

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