CPAG statement on NAO report on Universal Credit

September 5, 2013

Commenting on the National Audit Office report ‘Universal Credit: early progress’ released today, Imran Hussain, Head of Policy of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

'This report places Universal Credit on the ‘critical list’, cataloguing mistakes and failures that have dogged the project right from the start. The priority now has to be instilling confidence about when it will be delivered and, crucially for families, ensuring that when it’s up and running Universal Credit makes good on claims that it will make work pay and reduce poverty.

'We’re pleased that ministers are slowing down the national roll-out given the sheer pace and scale of the original timetable. For families and advice workers, getting this right matters much more than meeting political deadlines. But ministers should acknowledge that the delay and uncertainty is costly and disruptive to charities and advice agencies working with families who have been gearing up for Universal Credit.

'Even people in the know will wince at parts of the report: that the Government cannot explain why the national roll out of Universal Credit was set for October 2013; that there has never been a ‘convincing strategic plan’ for the project; and that the £303 million already spent on IT has only produced an insecure, inflexible system that is not fit for purpose.

'At the moment, the timetable is up in the air, the project management is all over the place, and the ability of the programme to deliver on its objectives is in real jeopardy.'

 

ENDS

  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which has over 150 member organisations and is campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.
  • Key quotes from the NAO report:

'The source of many problems has been the absence of a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work' [page 33]

‘The Department is unable to explain to us why it originally decided to aim for national roll-out from October 2013’ [Para 3.7]

'In early 2013 , it (DWP) did not have a convincing strategic plan in place’ [3.35]

‘It is unlikely that UC will be as simple or cheap to administer as originally intended’ [15, summary]

‘the Department has not achieved value for money… wider concerns about the Department’s ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic timescales and a lack of openness about progress.’ [23, summary]