Universal credit ‘missteps’

Planned reforms to the benefits system have been hampered by a series of 'missteps', the man charged with overseeing the introduction of universal credit has admitted. His remarks were made in an article published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Howard Shiplee, the director-general for universal credit in the Department for Work and Pensions, detailed the problems he has encountered since being hired. He said: 'It’s clear to me there were examples of poor project management in the past, a lack of transparency where the focus was too much on what was going well and not enough on what wasn’t and with suppliers not managed as they should have been'. But he went on to claim these errors have been put right and that the DWP now has a deliverable plan. 'I am confident we are now back on course and the challenges are being handled', he says.

Two days after Shiplee's comments, an audit report said the Department for Work and Pensions had failed to achieve value for money in its early implementation of universal credit, and was not yet able to assess the value of IT systems it spent over £300 million to develop. It added that the Department had been 'overly ambitious' in both the timetable and scope of the programme; had taken risks to try to meet the short timescale; and was unable to explain how it had originally decided on its ambitious plans or evaluated their feasibility.

SourcesThe Daily Telegraph, 3 September 2013 | Universal Credit: Early Progress, HC 621 (Session 2013-14), National Audit Office, TSO
Links (Shiplee)Article | Telegraph report | Guardian report
Links (NAO)
Report | NAO press release | CPAG press release | Gingerbread press release | SMF press release | TUC press release | BBC report | Daily Mail report | Guardian report (1) | Guardian report (2) | Guardian report (3) | Inside Housing report | Public Finance report | Telegraph report

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Publication date: 
Sep 3 2013