Blame game begins over benefits shake-up: IDS accuses civil servants of ignoring warning signs about Universal Credit plan
- National Audit Office says Universal Credit is beset by ‘weak management, ineffective control and poor governance’
- The scheme is designed to ensure that it always pays people to take a job
- Auditors warn the £2.4bn project has not achieved value for money
PUBLISHED: 23:27, 4 September 2013 | UPDATED: 08:55, 5 September 2013
Iain Duncan Smith today sought to pin the blame for the disastrous start of his flagship welfare reforms on inept civil servants.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said he ‘lost faith’ in his own civil servants running the huge Universal Credit project.
He accused them of ‘just wanting to be able to say it was going well’ even as the £2.4billion project hit problems.
In a devastating report the National Audit Office says Universal Credit is beset by ‘weak management, ineffective control and poor governance’.
The scheme, which will replace a string of out-of-work benefits, is designed to ensure that it always pays people to take a job or work more hours.
But auditors warn that the £2.4billion project has ‘not achieved value for money’, partly because of unrealistic timetables imposed by ministers.
A £425million IT system is still not working properly and £34million of equipment has already been written off.
The NAO says the scheme ‘still has the potential to create significant benefits for society’.
But it suggests the deadline for rolling out the scheme by 2017 may have to be put back, adding that the Department for Work and Pensions ‘must scale back its delivery ambition and set out realistic plans’.
The findings are a major blow to Mr Duncan Smith, who has staked his reputation on delivering the complex project on time.
The minister is expected to be called to Parliament today to answer questions from MPs about why he repeatedly told the Commons the project was on track while knowing it was at risk of collapse.He told the BBC: ‘I lost faith in the ability of the civil servants to be able to manage this programme.
‘So we brought in people from outside, we brought in the Cabinet Office, working with my colleagues, to ensure that this programme could be delivered within the scope of how it was planned and make sure that it was delivered within budget – not going back to the Treasury for any more money.’
He added that the officials ‘charged with putting in place the IT didn’t make the correct decisions’.
Schadenfreude.Great gushing amounts of it shower down on this evil and wicked social-engineering project. I daresay that Kommandant Hoess at Auschwitz reported in a similarly self-serving,introspective and morally vacuous tones when deliveries of Zyklon B were running late. The programmatic destruction of the post-1945,socially as well as social democratic bourgeois ” Welfare state” continues apace,despite significant imbroglios such as this. The progenitors and the enforcers of these crude, antedeluvian ,policies of mass pauperisation have yet to experience any actual casualties themselves. Waving placards at them and exposing their occasional tactical or strategic witnesses do not make for a successful,Revolutionary Class Struggle.Nice thought the Schadenfreude is.