by Tim Lezard Delays and uncertainty surrounding the government’s flagship universal credit scheme mean auditors are unable to say whether it will be worth the expense, the PCS warns. A National Audit Office report published today concludes it is still …

Tim Lezard UK, PCS,

Iain Duncan Smith IDSby Tim Lezard

Delays and uncertainty surrounding the government’s flagship universal credit scheme mean auditors are unable to say whether it will be worth the expense, the PCS warns.

A National Audit Office report published today concludes it is still “at too early a stage to determine if the [Department for Work and Pensions] will achieve value for money in its implementation of universal credit”.

This is a stunning statement for the NAO to make about a scheme that was controversially ‘reset’ in early 2013 after being dogged by problems and high costs, the union says. The timetable for full implementation has been extended by two years.

The report also says the benefits of introducing universal credit are “heavily reliant on a number of assumptions and the eventual impact will be difficult to measure”.

The department has still not laid out its “detailed plans for universal credit systems and processes” and has not yet worked out its staffing requirements beyond February 2015, the auditors note.

Plans have already been delayed by recruitment problems, adding more costs, and the report reveals the DWP has cut its planned training budget for staff by 68%, which the NAO says increases risks to service quality.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Universal credit has been marred by controversy, delays and high costs because ministers have tried to rely on it as a central plank of their ideological cuts to social security.

“It’s clear that the DWP is still a long way off being able to prove this scheme can be a success and that it will have the right staffing and resources to provide a proper service to people who are looking for work or need support.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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