Iain Duncan Smith insists welfare reform is not 'a debacle' despite delays and multi-million pound software write-off
Mr Duncan Smith disclosed last week that his 2017 target for the full introduction of Universal Credit is set to be missed
The computer system for the flagship welfare reform was not yet ready for couples who make a claim, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, admitted on Monday.
He also announced that the Government had written off more than £40m worth of software designed for the new Universal Credit, while a further £90m of equipment would be worthless in five years’ time.
In a bruising session with MPs, Mr Duncan Smith said his reforms remained on track despite a series of delays and set-backs.
He denied that the launch of Universal Credit, which is due to replace six benefits and tax credits with a single payment, had turned into a “debacle” and insisted the scheme was “doable”.
It has been introduced for a handful of claimants in the North-West of England and is due to be rolled out across the region by the end of next year.
But MPs on the Commons work and pensions select committee heard that claims by couples had to be handled manually because the computer system could not cope.
It was currently designed for single adults and had not been configured for couples or for claimants with children.
Howard Shiplee, the former London Olympics executive drafted in this year to “reset” the troubled scheme, told the MPs that problems arose if a single claimant met a new partner and moved in with him or her.
“As the potential for claimants to change circumstances, for things to change … the more complicated it becomes.
“Therefore the next stage is to work on couples. That will be a complicated issue. Couples come together, they divide, they have children, things happen.
“This sort of software is not something you get on the back of a cigarette packet. It’s complicated.”
Mr Duncan Smith hit out at “bogus nonsense” published over the money wasted on IT costs, but confirmed that £40.1m of software had already been written off, £6m more than previously stated. Another £90m of software would be used over the next five years, but have no value by 2018.
However, Mr Duncan Smith insisted the scheme’s assets were worth £152m. The Department for Work and Pensions also claims that universal credit could ultimately boost the economy by up to £38bn over ten years by moving claimants off benefits.
The Work and Pensions Secretary 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.
Labour said official figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility showed only a tiny fraction of the numbers due to be using the new system by the next general election in 2015 would be transferred on time.
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
£28000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £45,00 + pension: h2 Recruit Ltd: A great new ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...
£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With more than half the world's populati...