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Universal Credit scheme wasted millions says report

A benefits scheme launched in the North West has wasted more than £30m according to a report.

The spending watchdog claims Universal Credit was set up without bosses knowing how it would work.

It was piloted at the job centre in Ashton Under Lyne. The government says it agrees with the report's findings. Ralph Blunsom has the story:

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Universal Credit 'wastes £30m'

A government welfare scheme piloted in the North West has wasted more than 30 million pounds in failed IT according to a new report.

The public spending watchdog claims the Universal Credit payment was set up in without bosses knowing how it would work.

A trial began in Ashton Under Lyne earlier this year.

In a damning report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said the project championed by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith had been beset by "weak management, ineffective control and poor governance".

Universal Credit is due to replace a bundle of means-tested benefits by 2017, with the department estimating it will save #38 billion in administration, fraud and error costs by 2023.

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  1. Elaine Willcox

Warning over Universal Credit system

A new report claims most families will gain nothing from the Government's new Universal Credit.

The TUC and Child Poverty Action Group said the new single benefit payment, now being trialled in Ashton Under Lyne, was in danger of failing to deliver on its key objectives.

Nine out of 10 families will gain nothing overall from its introduction, with any benefits offset by recent social security cuts.

Requiring people to claim online and make joint claims with their partners will make the process more complicated at a time when advice services are being cut.

Universal Credit is not bad in principle, but taken together with the other benefit changes introduced by the Government, it will make most people worse off.

– TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady

Universal Credit lets itself down on many fronts. It introduces new complexities into the benefits system such as joint payments and new rules on savings. In addition, the financial gains for many are underwhelming, and the new system will rely as much on the stick as the carrot to incentivise claimants into work.

– Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham