Universal Credit could take 10 YEARS to finish, says Labour MP

DWP mouths 'on time and on budget' line

The government's disastrous £700m Universal Credit programme could take up to 10 years to complete, Labour MP Stephen Timms informed El Reg on Thursday.

"I've been reliably told by someone formerly working on the programme that it will take ten years to complete. Based on the evidence, I have no reason not to believe that time-scale," Timms said.

Timms' source had been working on the project until recently, he said.

The National Audit Office has said just £34m of project's IT investment could be re-usable. Currently just 0.3 per cent of the eligible population are using it.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, Timms pointed out that the earliest completion date is now 2021.

"In 2011, you said the transition to Universal Credit would be complete by 2017," he wrote. "Now we are told that the transition to Universal Credit will be completed by 2021 at the earliest, a date which is six years away."

A spokesman from the DWP said by 2017 the last new claims to legacy benefits will be accepted and we will migrate remaining cases to Universal Credit. The current business plan assumes the bulk of this will be complete by 2019, she added.

“Our current plan is on track and we are making good progress. By this time next year, Universal Credit will be in every Jobcentre in the country.

Universal Credit is a UK welfare benefit launched in 2013 to replace six means-tested benefits and tax credits.

The Labour party has promised to conduct a review of the programme to determine if it can be salvaged or should be scrapped, if it gains power in the May general election. ®




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