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Universal credit 'on life-support' as clock ticks down on Treasury funding guarantee

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Universal credit 'on life-support' as clock ticks down on Treasury funding guarantee

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Bill Payments, Housing, Universal Credit

Universal credit 'on life-support' as clock ticks down on Treasury funding guarantee Universal credit 'on life-support' as clock ticks down on Treasury funding guarantee

Universal credit is on "life-support" with only 247 days of guaranteed funding left, Labour MP Chris Bryant has claimed.

Bryant, the shadow minister for welfare reform, taunted Iain Duncan Smith in the House of Commons after the Work and Pensions Secretary repeated his claim - also made two months ago - that the 'full business case' for the new benefits system would be signed off "very shortly".

Chris Bryant said: "The truth of the matter is that this programme—the Secretary of State’s pet project—is being kept on a life-support system, and all he can say is that the Treasury has guaranteed another 247 days of funding, with nothing beyond the end of this Parliament.

"He comes here again and says exactly what he said on 9 July, which was that this was going to be approved “very soon”. What has gone wrong? Did the chief secretary to the Treasury and the secretary of state take two months going on holiday, or are there real sticking points in the programme because, frankly, the sums do not add up?"

Iain Duncan Smith: replied "There are no sticking points, but these matters need to be agreed carefully. This test-first-and-then-implement process is the way all future programmes will be implemented.

"I just want to quote Mr Manzoni, the new chief executive of the Major Projects Authority, who made it clear to the Public Accounts Committee in June that universal credit is stable and on track with the reset plan, so whatever the hon. Gentleman wants to say, when this is signed off, I hope that he will come to the dispatch box and say that Labour members fully support it and they will get on with it.

Earlier, Duncan Smith explained that funding for the universal credit had been signed off by the Treasury for 2013-14 and 2014-15 but the full business case, which covers the full lifetime of the programme, was yet to be formally approved.

The former civil head of the service Sir Bob Kerslake, who left his post during David Cameron's reshuffle in July, caused the Department for Work and Pensions some embarrassment earlier this year when he told MPs: “We should not beat around the bush. It (universal credit) has not been signed off."

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