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Universal Credit project to abandon ‘digital-by-default’ – £303m spent, £65m of IT assets to show for it

December 9, 2013

At today’s Parliamentary Select Committee on Work and Pensions hearing, the new Universal Credit Programme Director, Howard Shiplee announced the abandonment of ‘digital-by-default’ for Universal Credit for the ‘foreseeable future’.  Apart from the initial Universal Credit claim procedure, all will remain face-to-face, via telephone and post.

UC-Hearing

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Mike Driver, DWP Finance Director General stated that of the £303m spent on developing the IT, £40m will be written off now, with £91m accelerated depreciation to follow on IT that is will be temporarily used until 2017. Under close cross-examination by Teresa Pearce MP, he further explained that a further £107m of IT expenditure was not ‘capitalised’ at all leaving no useful software asset.

So, the only long-term asset on the balance sheet after the expenditure of £303m on IT is £65m.

The numbers will be clarified overnight. Dame Anne Begg announced at the start of the hearing that the missing DWP accounts for 2012-13 will finally be published Tue 10th December.  Update: Click here to view the accounts

All figures to April 2013 – any further expenditure not included.

More details, references from an interesting online DWP source here:

“After you make your Universal Credit claim, most interactions will be face to face, by telephone or by post.” Universal Credit Claim Journey, released 6th Dec 2013, page 4

Universal Credit “changes to circumstances through Universal Credit telephone helpline followed by confirmation through the post” ibid, page 5

Universal Credit moves with you – even if your new local Job Centre is not in one of the 7 Pathfinder areas! ibid, page 6

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From → Agile Governance

5 Comments
  1. Jackie permalink

    I am listening to the Committee live, as I type, and I am very concerned about the way IDS has responded. He is very defensive. Across the board there is a lack of clarity about functionality. The timescales are ‘fuzzy’ – with the 700k who are vulnerable being on UCS ‘sometime in 2016’ (as per IDS). The new business case will be made in January. I have little confidence that the 152m ‘asset’ they are retaining will be of full value for money as it is replaced by the digital solution. Depreciation of the asset over 5 years is NOT value for money. To me this is about risk mitigation and issue management – due to a lack of functional clarity and poor scale management.

    They are still discussing the timescales – rather weak responses, considering that the business case is to put forward in January.

  2. Hi Jackie!

    I found it demanding keeping up with the flow of numbers. I finally had to re-edit the blog to explain in a straightforward manner.

    When you get past all the smoke and mirrors, it appears that the only long-term asset on the balance sheet after the expenditure of £303m on IT is £65m…

  3. Bryan permalink

    Howard Shiplee’s experience of complex IT projects is almost laughable, his repeated use of the word “utility” is just odd, he just doesn’t understand the complexity of this project. The so called pathfinders will just become a greater burden and complicate any future migration should the new system ever get developed.

    • From one Brian to another (almost):

      Yes point taken. Howard Shiplee has a fantastic track record of delivering buildings. One possible blind-spot could be lack of experience of delivering IT systems and services. However, he had all the lingo and jargon off pat at today’s committee hearing – let’s see if DWP can really reform the Universal Credit Programme and make it ‘Agile’ as he promises…

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