Minister: Benefit reform not a debacle

The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has denied the Government's flagship welfare reform programme, the Universal Credit, is a "debacle" despite admitting that more than £40 million spent on IT for the project had been written off.

Latest ITV News reports

DWP confirm £40m write-off for Universal Credit IT

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed that £40.1 million had been written off on software and computing costs during the introduction of the new Universal Credit system.

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Annual accounts will show £40.1m write-off for Universal Credit IT which includes the £34m we previously announced

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Re discussion of £90m IT today - we will be using this while we continue to roll out UC over the next five years. Not a write-off.

Watch: Iain Duncan Smith: Benefit reform not a debacle

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Iain Duncan Smith: Benefit reform not a debacle

The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has denied claims that his welfare reform programme is a "debacle".

Speaking in front of MPs today, Mr Duncan Smith admitted the introduction of the new system was running late, but revealed the IT problems that initially disrupted the programme were now fixed.

ITV News' Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports:

Duncan Smith insists benefit reform on track

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has insisted his flagship welfare reforms remain on track, despite further delays to the programme.

Mr Duncan Smith disclosed last week that his 2017 target for the full introduction of Universal Credit is set to be missed - with around 700,000 claimants facing a longer wait.

Iain Duncan Smith will today be questioned by MPs about the delay to reforms. Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

Speaking ahead of his appearance before the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, he said the delay was to allow the most vulnerable claimants more time to adjust to the change.

"We could easily have tried to rush those people in but we have decided not to. I think it is only fair to give them longer," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I do accept, of course, that this plan is different from the original plan."

Howard Shiplee to be quizzed alongside Duncan Smith

Giving evidence alongside Iain Duncan Smith at the work and pensions select committee will be Howard Shiplee, the former London Olympics executive drafted in earlier this year to "reset" the Universal Credit programme amid growing concerns over delays and IT issues.

Howard Shiplee is also expected to give evidence before MPs today over Universal Credit. Credit: Press Association

The Secretary of State may also be questioned about reports - which he denies - that he sought to have MPs pin blame for the failures on the DWP's chief civil servant Robert Devereux.

In his reply to the Autumn Statement, shadow chancellor Ed Balls taunted Mr Duncan Smith, commonly known as "IDS", over the reforms, suggesting it stood instead for "In Deep Shambles".

In written evidence to the committee, the DWP said it was "confident that it has taken, and continues to take, the right remedial steps to address past issues in the Universal Credit programme."

Labour: Govt has broken promises on spectacular scale

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said the extent of the delay to the Government's introduction of Universal Credit was set out in data released by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) alongside the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith repeatedly promised to deliver their flagship policy 'on time and within budget'. That claim, and the credibility they staked on it, now lie in tatters.

For months on end the Government have tried to avoid answering questions about Universal Credit but these OBR figures tell the truth of how (they) have broken their promises on a spectacular scale.

They have been forced to admit that they have completely missed their targets and Universal Credit will not now be rolled out before the election. David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are presiding over a complete mess and it is taxpayers who are picking up the bill with at least one hundred million pounds of their money written off.

– Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves

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Duncan Smith to face questions over Universal Credit

Iain Duncan Smith is to be grilled by MPs over the scale of delays to the Government's flagship welfare reform - Universal Credit.

Iain Duncan Smith will appear before MPs today to answer questions over Universal Credit. Credit: Press Association

The Work and Pensions Secretary - who will appear before the Commons committee today - has admitted the 2017 target for the full introduction of Universal Credit is set to be missed - with around 700,000 claimants facing a longer wait.

But Labour said official figures showed that only a tiny fraction of the numbers due to be using the new system by the time of the next general election would be transferred on time.

Only a "handful" of the promised 1.7 million would be switched by 2014/15 and only 400,000 by the following year - less than 10% of the original target, the Opposition said.

Read more: Universal Credit switchover to miss 2017 deadline