The National Audit Office criticise Universal Credit reformsMake Text Bigger
The National Audit Office has crticised Universal Credit welfare reforms as being badly managed, overambitious and poor value for money including £34 million written off on failed IT.
The spending watchdog said “risks were taken with the universal credit to hit targets, IT systems had limited functionality and an unfamiliar project management approach was used”.
These IT issues have delayed the introduction of Universal Credit although Ian Duncan Smith has confirmed the problems are now fixed and will be delivered within budget and timescales.
The National Audit Office said “At this early stage of the Universal Credit programme the department has not achieved value for money.”
“The department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit to claimants, has had weak control of the programme, and has been unable to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop.”
“These problems represent a signiﬁcant setback to Universal Credit and raise wider concerns about the department’s ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic timescales, and a lack of openness about progress.”
The report said there was still potential for universal credit to bring about “considerable benefits” if the department put “realistic plans and strong discipline in place”.
Issues Found were:
- Officials were “unable to explain” the reasoning behind the timescales or their feasibility
- There were no “adequate measures” of progress
- Computer systems lack the function to identify potentially fraudulent claims, relying instead on manual checks
- £34m investment in IT systems has been written off
- The Department for Work and Pensions lacked IT expertise and senior leadership
- Delays to the roll out will reduce the expected benefits of reform
Expenditure on IT systems has accounted for more than 70% of the £425m spent to date but the report could not confirm if the infrastructure in place will support a national roll out.
Universal Credit has been hotly debated by readers in Property118 and widely condemned as a bad idea, by not making housing benefits directly payable to Landlords and in the trial areas used so far has resulted in a substantial increases in rent arrears.
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