A Major Projects Authority report has found that the cost of universal credit will rise to £15.8bn.
An official report looking into significant government programmes has found that the cost of universal credit has risen by £3bn to £15.8bn in two years, reports the Guardian.
The programme has also encountered further delays and is unlikely to be fully implemented until 2020.
According to the report, the “total budgeted whole-life costs” of universal credit will be £15.84bn and will be completed in April 2020. In 2012, the estimated cost for universal credit was £12.85bn, however no figures were available in 2013 because the entire scheme was forced to reset.
Stephen Timms, the acting shadow work and pensions secretary, called for the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, to review the management of the scheme. “These new figures have shown how wrongIain Duncan Smithis to claim universal credit is ‘on time and on budget’. It will take 495 years to fully roll out universal credit at the current rate,” he said.
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman claimed that there has been no overall increase in costs, and blamed the apparent increase in costs on an accounting device. “There is no increase to the budget for universal credit – this is just an accounting measure which includes the cost of running universal credit over more years. In fact we’ve reduced the investment costs for universal credit by 25%. When fully rolled out UC will bring economic benefit of £7bn a year,” she said.
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