Feeds

Universal Credit: £40 MILLION and counting's been spaffed up the wall on useless IT gear

AND software valued at £91m will be worthless by 2018

High performance access to file storage

The chaotic IT implementation of the one-dole-to-rule-them-all benefits system will lead to millions of pounds of taxpayers' money being wasted, secretary of state for work and pensions Iain Duncan Smith admitted to MPs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP confirmed to Parliament's Work and Pensions select committee late on Monday that £40.1m in IT assets had so far been written off, following a series of embarrassing failings with the deployment of the technology underpinning Universal Credit.

Meanwhile, a further £91m in IT assets will be worthless five years from now.

The system was originally set to be fully operational for any British citizens claiming benefit on six different schemes by 2017.

However, IDS confessed last week that the target could no longer be reached as at least 700,000 people seeking Employment Support Allowance will still be absent from the new system a little over three years from now.

During a grilling with MPs yesterday, IDS said that more taxpayers' money could be lost if "anything goes wrong going forward" with Universal Credit.

However, he savaged newspaper reports and opposition MPs for spouting "bogus nonsense about huge write-offs."

Universal Credit's total software IT assets stand at nearly £152m, IDS said. However, many of those assets will be worthless in five years from now when the technology is expected to depreciate.

DWP's finance boss of the re-worked benefit claimants system, Mike Driver, told MPs that £125m had been spent on software code and a further £27m on software licences.

He said that his team and the Government Digital Service - the civil servants behind the rebranding of Directgov - had determined that code worth £91m would only be used until a "digital solution" is implemented.

"As we move forward and we implement the new digital solution, the assets that we have in place will be amortised or devalued in a shorter period than we originally anticipated," Driver said.

"We will write it down over a five-year period as opposed to a longer period."

He added: "The way in which we had set our accounting policies previously to write down a software code over a 15-year period was almost certainly too long."

Universal Credit boss Howard Shiplee - the man brought in earlier this year by Duncan Smith to try to rescue the minister's crisis-hit project - said, when quizzed by MPs, that "one of the issues, in the early days, was the mantra of digital-by-default".

'Bogus nonsense'. IDS in the Commons last week with arms defiantly crossed.
Pic credit: Parliament TV

That jargon was repeatedly spewed by dotcom decamillionaire Martha Lane Fox, who recently quit her role as the government's digi champion.

"From a security point of view, to have everything digital is not at this stage of development a sensible or appropriate solution, it will take some considerable time to get to a totally online system," Shiplee told the committee.

He added that as of today, no such example of a totally digital service was being used by businesses in the UK - such as the banking sector - that involved the delicate and complex processing of an individual's finances.

As of April 2013, Duncan Smith's department had spent £303m on contracts for designing and developing IT systems which were supplied by four main providers: HP, IBM, Accenture and BT.

Earlier this year, government spending watchdog the National Audit Office found that the DWP had been forced in May to write off £34m of Universal Credit's IT assets.

For those wishing to be kind to IDS, a further £6m has now been wasted. Others may interpret the figures a little differently, however, by concluding that over the next five years some £97m-and-counting in taxpayer money will have been written-off as the software currently being used by just 2,000 benefit claimants in the country becomes completely obsolete. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.