Universal Credit project “Amber/Red” again, reveals Treasury Secretary Sharon White
Croaking her testimony through a bad throat infection, Treasury Second Secretary Sharon White this afternoon told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee that the Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority has again assessed the Universal Credit Project as being in ‘Amber/Red’ status.
No turning back as DWP continues Universal Credit rollout despite latest MPA amber/red risk rating
Sharon White explained the Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR’s) reluctance to accept DWP’s forecasts for planned roll-out of the ‘digital’ (final) version of Universal Credit system by noting that the Major Projects Authority (MPA) has again rated Universal Credit as in ‘Amber/Red’ risk status.
With only 17 claimants live after two weeks of use of the new mobile friendly version of the Universal Credit system, it will take months for practical feedback to reassure the MPA and OBR that the Outline Business Case can be signed off, with the Full Business Case not being agreed until 2017.
Margaret Hodge MP (PAC Chair) pressed DWP boss Robert Devereux on how much of the £697m IT spend will be thrown away if only £30m of the new ‘digital’ system is carried forward into a mass roll-out. This will come as no surprise to those who saw my interview on the BBC TV over a year ago.
“So just elaborate on that for us… £425m has to be accounted for?”
(Brian was first to say it: September 2013…)
Other facts that emerged in today’s PAC hearing:
– No Universal Credit Business Case approval by Treasury will happen – even in outline – until after the general election. The final Business Case could take another year to approve
– Treasury: “There may be better ways of reforming the (benefits) system”
– Robert Devereux DWP boss points out even though it will cost more money, there are £7.7bn savings expected by a twin track approach (over £600m more than cheaper single track)
– Universal Credit has been live on the new mobile friendly ‘digital’ system in in Sutton for two weeks. Only 17 claims so far.
– Neil Couling, Work Services Director: “2.7% of Universal Credit cases have errors. 100% checking is no longer required. Universal Credit Release 6 had a problem, 7 went well. 8 biggest so far, and it went well.
– Training is massive: 26,000 DWP staff were trained for Universal Credit Claimant Commitment rollout
– DWP is soon to publish results of study of rent payments to claimants rather than direct to landlords
© Brian Wernham 2014 CC BY-NC-ND