Universal credit 'reset' after catalogue of blunders
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Universal Credit and also in Central Government
The government's spluttering flagship reform of the benefits system has been officially 'reset'.
Universal credit has had to be so drastically reconfigured that the Major Projects Authority (MPA) - the government watchdog responsible for its implementation - has decided that it is now a totally new project.
Led by Iain Duncan Smith, the Department for Work and Pensions behemoth remoulding of the welfare system has been at the centre of a number of costly IT blunders.
The MPA has now decided that enough is enough and has sent UC all the way back to the drawing board.
In its report, the MPA said: "The ‘reset’ category has been applied to the Universal Credit project. We have undertaken significant work to develop a ‘reset plan’ to place the roll-out of Universal Credit on a more secure footing, and the ‘reset’ DCA reflects this new status of the project.
Defending the troubled system, the DWP has claimed that the watchdog's report is out of date because it made its assessment last September. The department says it has subsequently made progress in implementing UC through a limited number of pilots in jobcentres.
In the foreword to the MPA's report, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, wrote: "Delivering major projects will never be easy – they are some of the biggest and most complex things the Government will do. But we must not pretend problems don’t exist. Instead, we must identify and address them early on before they become an issue.
"By being open and realistic about the challenges we face, we can find solutions. That’s nothing less than what the public should expect from us, and what we, through this Annual Report, are committed to delivering."
A DWP spokesman said: "Universal credit is on track. The reset is not new but refers to the shift in the delivery plan and change in management back in early 2013.
"The reality is that universal credit is already making work pay as we roll it out in a careful and controlled way. It's already operating in 10 areas and will start expanding to the rest of the north-west in June.
"Jobseekers in other areas are already benefiting from some of its positive impacts through help from a work coach, more digital facilities in jobcentres, and a written agreement setting out what they will do to find work."