Universal Credit roll-out '600m under budget'
Posted by APM on 23rd Feb 2015
Last Monday saw the national roll-out of Universal Credit which is £600m under budget according to Iain Duncan Smith.
The new benefit is being gradually delivered "stage-by-stage" based on advice, said the work and pensions secretary.
As part of the accelerated roll out announced by Mr Duncan Smith last year over 150 Jobcentres will move over to the new benefit in the next two months. It will then be available in all Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales by 2016.
The ambitious project has experienced a number of problems along the way including being given a ‘reset’ status by the Major Projects Authority (MPA) and suffering from ‘poor project management’.
But Mr Duncan Smith told the BBC that there was always "a certain amount of write-down" when developing IT systems.
"Compared with the expenditure of something in the order of £2.4bn that was originally expected, we're now spending £1.8bn – and included in all of that we'll actually spend £600m less on this development than originally planned," he said.
When asked about delays to the project Mr Duncan Smith said launching benefit changes "all at once" did not go well.
"We brought in some other people, they looked again at it, they advised me and I took that advice – which was do it stage by stage, test it, then roll it out, then test the next bit, then roll it out, and that's what we're actually doing."
Prior to the national roll-out new research showed that Universal Credit is getting people into work more quickly, thereby helping them to earn more.
The analysis shows that, over a 4 month period, claimants are 13% more likely to have been in work than those on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Mr Duncan Smith claims that the Government’s welfare reforms have saved the taxpayer £50 billion and “restored fairness to the system”.
He added: “The evidence shows that under Universal Credit, people move into work more quickly and earn more money, giving them increased financial security.
Boost economy by £7bn
“It is very impressive that we have seen these results so soon and that this is having a real impact on people’s lives.”
Once completely implemented the Government estimates that Universal Credit could boost the economy by £7bn every year because of an increase in people being in work and reduced benefit expenditure.
Universal Credit replaces six existing income-based benefits – Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Working and Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit. The single payment is currently available, as part of a pilot, in nearly 100 job centres.