Universal Credit programme will not hit 2017 deadline
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith insists his plans to get Universal Credit set up by 2017 are “essentially” in place.
Following on from the Chancellor's delivery of the Autumn Statement, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced that the Universal Credit programme may not be complete by 2017 as planned.
It was only September when Iain Duncan Smith told the Commons that the 2017 plan remained in place. He has now said some people receiving Employment Support Allowance may not be transferred in time.
Labour's Rachel Reeves, shadow work and pensions secretary, said:
“On the morning of the Autumn Statement this is yet another shambolic announcement from this out-of-touch Government. Iain Duncan Smith has today admitted what everyone has known for months – that Universal Credit is massively behind schedule. But just a couple of weeks ago he was telling Parliament the Government would 'roll out Universal Credit on the plan and programme already set out'.”
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Duncan Smith said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “may take a little longer” as it was dealing with a vulnerable group and the official in charge of the project, Howard Shiplee, may want to take more time.
A written statement from the Department of Work and Pensions said the “safe and smooth delivery” of the new system would “take precedence over meeting specific timings”.
Mr Duncan Smith insists despite the possible late transfer of claimants the new benefit system will “essentially” be complete by 2017.
Ministers will argue that these claimants are among those least able to work so least likely to lose out by not being part of Universal Credit.
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