NAO find multiple problems with the governments Universal Credit scheme
- 05 Sep
Government official auditors have found the programme's costs could climb by hundreds of millions of pounds due to its poor management and major IT problems.
Universal credit merges six different benefits with the person claiming receiving a single monthly household payment. It requires different payments to landlords, more online claims, whilst merging in-work and out-of-work benefits, requiring new definitions of benefit conditions for those in work. It also requires close co-operation between the Department for Work and Pensions systems and tax officials at HM Revenue & Customs. The DWP originally estimated saving of a net benefit of £38bn by 2023.
Initially the project was planned to be introduced nationally by October this year, but as pilot projects were delayed the project will now go ahead in four years. The National Audit Office said the £2.4bn project has been set back by "weak management, ineffective control and poor governance." £34 million has already been wasted on a failed IT programme which is forcing the delay of its launch until after 2017.
The auditor's report has said that the government has not achieved "value for money" on its spending up to the end of April, mainly due to the IT programmes that still had "limited functionality."
Some of the problems found were:
- Officials "unable to explain" reasoning behind timescales or their feasibility.
- No "adequate measures" of progress
- Computer systems lack the function to indetify potentially fraudulent claims and having to rely on manual checks
- DWP lacks IT expertise and senior leadership
- Delays will reduce the expected benefits of reform
Iain Duncan Smith told parliament in March 2013 that universal credit "is proceeding exactly in accordance with plans". Yet the report highlights that the project was "reset" a month earlier following the involvement of the Major Project Authority, which has the power to intervene on behalf of taxpayers.
Margaret Hodge, the chair of the public accounts committee, said: "The DWP seems to have embarked on this crucial project, expected to cost the taxpayer some £2.4bn, with little idea as to how it was actually going to work."
It was found that the IT system couldn't identify potentially fraudulent claims so manual checks were needed. "Such checks will not be feasible or adequate once the system is running nationally. Delays to the introduction will reduce the expected benefits and - if the department maintains a 2017 completion date - increase risks by requiring the rapid migration of a large volume of claimants."
Civil servants were also accused of having weak control of the programme and were unable to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop. "These problems represent a significant setback to universal credit and raise wider concerns about the department's ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic timescales, and a lack of openness about progress."
The DWP said that the department would continue with the planned reform and was committed to delivering it on time by 2017, within budget. "The report does not cover the significant developments we've made since April including the go-live in Greater Manchester, our progress on the IT challenge, the latest plans for expansion from October, or the fact that we brought in two of the country's leading project management experts to lead UC," it said.
The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude said: "Universal credit is a brilliant policy designed to ensure that work always pays and that hardworking taxpayers see their money being spent judiciously."
- 03 May
MANY MAY STRUGGLE AS A RESULT OF CHANGES TO THE UNIVERSAL CREDIT SYSTEM
The study envisages the following issues from the move which is expected to save the taxman £1billion a year by 2021:Chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham said:"This cut...
- 13 Mar
CIH SCOTLAND POINTS OUT ISSUES WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW SINGLE PAYMENT ON UNIVERSAL CREDIT
Following recent warnings from the Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee about problems with the new Universal Credit system, CIH Scotland has pointed out some issues with the...
- 23 Nov
THE LHA CAP WILL APPLY TO ALL TENANTS THAT RECEIVE UNIVERSAL CREDIT
These details were stated by the government:Lord Freud announced in a ministerial statement that this would "ensure simplicity and a streamlined process". He also said tenants who are moved from...
- 17 Oct
UNIVERSAL CREDIT SET TO EXPAND IN AREAS SERVED BY KIRKINTILLOCH JOBCENTRE
The beneficiaries of this would have to live within one of these postcodes: G64 4, G66 1, G66 2, G66 3, G66 4, G66 5, G66 7 and G66 8.This entitlement means working age people in these postcodes...
- 25 Aug
AFTERMATH OF UNIVERSAL CREDIT DELAYS
The labour MP also said "the minimum six-week payment period faced by new Universal Credit claimants led to reliance on emergency food parcels, triggered debt and rent arrears, and caused health...
- 25 May
FIRST ERROR AND FRAUD FINDINGS FOR UNIVERSAL CREDIT
The department's findings show that underpayments due to official errors were considerably higher than for the older Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) Programme, however, the rate of overpayments was...
- 09 Sep
Universal credit targets defended by Iain Duncan Smith
When asked about the effectiveness of the roll-out of universal credit Mr Duncan Smith said: “Universal credit is now available in more than half of jobcentres across Great Britain and will be...
- 18 Aug
Scottish carers are worse off due to universal credit
Child Poverty Action Group has sent a report to Scottish and UK ministers urging them to amend the universal credit regime to pay closer heed to Scotland’s systems and use devolved power to protect...
- 13 Aug
Universal Credit claimants rise to almost 90,000
Figures by the Department for Work and Pensions have found that 89,357 people were claiming universal credit by 9th July which was a rise of 18% compared to 75,426 on 11th June, reports Inside...
- 13 Aug
Scottish government to revamp universal credit
The Scottish Government has decided it wants to give claimants the choice of having their payments made twice a month rather than just once a month on universal credit, reports Scottish Housing...
Support Solutions 5th National Housing Support & Social Care Conference 2014 The Social and Financial return seminar was very helpful, helped me think about our approach to bidding, negotiating for funding and keeping hold of what we have! The New Technology seminar was really an eye opener- really got me thinking about potential applications for older people. P.M - Four Housing