Govt accused of 'hampering' Universal Credit inquiry

The Government has been "hampering" an inquiry into their flagship Universal Credit reforms and said there remained "worrying uncertainty" over the computer system being used to bring in the new single payment, according to a committee of MPs.

Govt: Universal Credit 'on track'

The Government dismissed claims it had deliberately obstructed an inquiry into the botched roll out of their flagship Universal Credit reforms.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said:

Universal Credit and its IT systems are very clearly working well, with claimants receiving the new benefit and moving into work.

We deliberately started in a slow, controlled and safe way, which the Committee itself has long recommended, so we can expand Universal Credit securely to more people.

Universal Credit is on track and we will start expanding it to other Jobcentres from this summer.

We have made our plans to roll out Universal Credit very clear with regular updates.

– Department of Work and Pensions

MPs: 'Hard to see' Universal Credit delivered on time

MPs have expressed scepticism about the Government's ability to deliver wide-ranging benefit reforms on time.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee said Iain Duncan-Smith's department had worked at "a snail's pace" and failed to be open and transparent with their investigation.

Whilst it is right to ensure that the system works properly before extending it, there is a difference between cautious progress and a snail's pace.

Given the excruciatingly slow pace of roll-out to date, it is hard to see how the most recent implementation timetable can be met.

Effective select committee scrutiny depends on the provision of accurate, timely and detailed information by government departments.

DWP has not always provided this to the committee in the case of Universal Credit.

– The Work and Pensions Select Committee

Read: Government 'hampering' inquiry into Universal Credit

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Government 'hampering' inquiry into Universal Credit

The Government has been accused of "hampering" an inquiry which found tens of millions of pounds had been wasted on flagship Universal Credit reforms.

Read: Children 'paying the price' for austerity

Universal Credit
Iain Duncan-Smith's flagship Universal Credit reforms have run into problems with their IT programme. Credit: PA

Read: Minister: Universal Credit launch has been 'pretty lamentable'

The Work and Pensions Select Committee said there remained "worrying uncertainty" about the computer system being used to usher in the new single payment for unemployed or low income families.

The committee suggested the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had not been cooperative during the investigation and urged them to be "clear and frank" about implications of delays.

Computer problems meant that £40 million spent on software has had to be written off because it is of no further use, and a further £90 million has been spent on IT with a useful life of only five years, said the committee.

Universal Credit will replace six benefits, including jobseeker's allowance, income support, child tax credit and housing benefit, but a national roll out has been delayed.

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