Hello, you haven’t heard from us for a while, but that’s not because we don’t care any more, we care just as passionately as before if not more so, we’ve both been a little busy lately, that’s all.
Two things have come to our notice this week that made us sit up and take notice again, and we feel that we should let you know as well, just in case you didn’t.
Firstly our old friend Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work and Pensions. It seems that they are quite likely to have to scrap their entire IT system for Universal Credit and start again from scratch.
£300 Million wasted. #Austerity? Not in Whitehall apparently.
A review by Universal Credit director general Howard Shiplee will apparently recommend two options for the future of the IT developed so far, which go even further than previous reports have suggested.
Option one would mean scrapping all the work done so far, thereby admitting it is not fit for purpose, and bringing most of the development of new IT systems in-house under the control of the Government Digital Service (GDS).
Option two would involve continuing to use some of the existing IT to support the current Pathfinder pilot projects, but developing new systems for the full roll-out – effectively delaying any decision to throw away all the work completed so far.
Option 1? Option 2? Both of them seem to involve scrapping everything at some point, whatever. The Cabinet Office, which controls GDS, is understood to favour the first option, while the DWP prefers to continue with the current IT for as long as possible. Two branches of the same government with opposing views, where have I heard that before?
The final decision will probably be made later this month by the Ministerial Oversight Group for the troubled welfare reform programme, led by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a highly critical report on Universal Credit in September that £303m had been spent so far on IT. Of that amount, the DWP has already admitted to writing off £34m of IT work, although that figure is likely to end up even higher whatever happens.
Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Rachel Reeves wrote to the Prime Minister last week, urging him to “start taking responsibility for this fiasco”. She added: “David Cameron has serious questions to answer about how he has allowed things to get to this stage and how his complacent, incompetent and out-of-touch government has wasted scandalous amounts of money on a half-baked plan IT now can’t deliver.”
Don’t sit on the fence Rachel, what do you really mean?
But if all of the IT were to be scrapped, the NAO report suggests that the final figure for the write-off would be in excess of £300m.
Most of that money has been spent with the four key IT suppliers for the project – HP, IBM, Accenture and BT.
The other piece of disastrous news that caught my eye this week was in relation to my old favourite – Aircraft Carriers.
The cost of two new aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy is expected to be almost twice the original estimate, the government is expected to confirm this week.
In the latest budget, the Ministry of Defence is set to estimate the cost of the two ships at £6.2bn.
£6.2 BILLION. What on earth are they doing? How many hospitals, schools, police officers etc etc could be funded by just the difference in cost between that and the original. Six years ago, when the contract was approved, costs were put at £3.65bn
The shadow defence secretary, Labour’s Vernon Coaker, said: “This is the latest in a series of financial fiascos in the MoD under David Cameron. It’s that word fiasco again (see above).
This government seem to be very good at cut cut cut in just about every public sector. We must all pull together, this is a national crisis, a time of severe austerity, and all of these cuts have to be in place before 2015 because we know we don’t stand a snowball’s chance of being re-elected.
Whilst, at the the very same time, they are increasing their salaries, increasing their pensions, and their expenses have almost returned to the excesses of the bad old days. Only a few days ago was there news about how they were claiming for gas and electricity in their second homes, and as one of my Twitter colleagues put it “Why do they need to do that, because if they’re heating their second home they’re not heating their main home, or cooking etc?”
So nothing has really changed since we spoke last. We are most definitely NOT All In It Together and the ConDem government that NOBODY voted for has shown just how arrogant and uncaring they can be.
Trouble is, it’s left me the dilemma, Who the hell do I vote for in 2015?
Answers on a Postcard please, assuming that Royal Mail still exists when you read this.