Iain Duncan Smith has predicted that most benefit claimants will have transferred onto the government’s universal credit scheme by the end of 2018.
A report by the Department for Work and Pensions has said the results from pilot projects are ‘encouraging’, reports the BBC.
The DWP had originally promised to have one million people on the new benefits system by April 2014 however the project has suffered numerous delays since its creation.
The report presented by Mr Duncan Smith said 14,170 were claiming the credit, which is expected to rise to 100,000 by May 2015 and 500,000 by May 2016.
On the ambition to transfer all 7.7 million claimants by 2017, Mr Duncan Smith said: “That’s our belief at the moment under the system that we are running.”
However, he added: “Arbitrary dates and deadlines are the enemy of secure delivery.”
The report has also said that universal credit would boost the economy by £7bn a year and that in a survey of 900 claimants people worked more and spent more time looking for work.
In the foreword to the report, Mr Duncan Smith and welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: “As we deliver this great reform, we are delivering life change for people, setting them on a path from dependence to independence.”
It said the figures were “a useful early indication that UC (universal credit) claimants might be responding positively”.
Chris Bryant, shadow welfare reform minister, said: “Today Iain Duncan Smith promised 100,000 people will be on universal credit by May 2015. But that’s only around 1% of the total number of people who are expected to claim the new benefit.”
He added that £130m had “already been wasted by ministers on universal credit and today’s announcement confirming further delays to the government’s flagship welfare reform is extremely worrying”.
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