Reform and Wastage, Together, And It’s Happening NOW

This wastage is not historical, this is not an old story with the cobwebs blown off it, this is today, and it’s called

Universal Credit.

Emperor Dave told us that he was reforming the benefits system.  He was going to save the country a small fortune.  His grand ideas included linking benefits to wages instead of inflation, a cap on Housing Benefit, adjusting regional benefits to the cost of living and apparently no-one under the age of 25 needs Housing Benefit anyway.  All in all he’s looking to save £10 Billion from the Welfare Budget.

To help him achieve this target his ConDem government invented Universal Credit.

The aims and objectives of said Universal Credit are

  • improve work incentives
  • smooth the transitions into and out of work, supporting a dynamic labour market
  • simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper for staff to administer
  • reduce in-work poverty
  • cut back on fraud and error.

It will be launched in 2013 and will replace:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit.

Now we get to the infuriating bit,

Regardless of where you stand on benefits the government should not be wasting OUR money.

It has become apparent that this innovative, flagship project has been hit by an IT glitch, somewhat reminiscent of the NHS farce.

The Independent reports that the scheme has been placed on a Treasury list of projects in crisis.  That sounds quite bad to me.

Universal credit has a development budget of £2 Billion. It is supposed to be a paperless on-line IT system for claimants that would bridge the DWP’s data with the Treasury.  However, the project is already suffering a £100 Million overrun. There are also concerns that a further £300 Million is being hidden by rising costs reallocated to child support payments.

A reorganisation of the complex IT system, following the departure this month of key senior civil servants in charge of universal credit, could mean an overrun of £500 Million by next spring.

There you are, we’ve just saved the Met’s Budget again.

The last Labour government was estimated to have wasted £26 Billion in botched IT projects, which included the national programme for the NHS and the fiasco over the national identity card scheme.

Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, Liam Byrne, said : “Universal credit is in danger of descending into total chaos. Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship scheme is late and over budget, top officials are heading for the hills and no one seems to believe the massive IT system is on track. Ministers must take urgent action before it becomes a multibillion-pound disaster.”

Universal Credit is dependent on a colossal database and IT system being created which is far more ambitious than has ever been attempted  by any country previously.  The new benefit regime will be digital by default, meaning millions of people, many of whom don’t have and can’t afford internet connections at home, will only be able to access benefits from Jobcentres and libraries.

Incredibly  Universal Credit probably won’t even save any money and is likely to cost far more to administer than the current system.  Whilst the new benefit system was intended to be rolled out in next April it now seems that there will just be small pilot projects in Cheshire and Manchester, with the intention now of rolling it out to a grateful nation in October 2013.

Mr Cameron – when in opposition – promised a move away from big IT projects, another broken promise Dave.

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2 thoughts on “Reform and Wastage, Together, And It’s Happening NOW

  1. Pingback: SNAFU or FUBAR? | The Big Picture

  2. Pingback: Cynical? Me? Surely Not? | RetiredAndAngry

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