In a new report the Public Accounts Committee has criticised the Universal Credit scheme for wasting GBP 140 million worth of taxpayers’ money. Universal Credit, which would replace six means-tested benefits and tax credits, is supposed to be due for national rollout between next year and 2017, yet the report finds that the programme has been badly managed.
According to the report, secretaries had been authorised to make purchases worth more than GBP 20 million, and in some instances it was uncertain what some suppliers had been paid for, leaving the scheme vulnerable to fraud. The report attacked the Department for Work and Pensions for neglecting to ‘implement basic procedures for monitoring and authorising expenditure.’
However, a spokesman for the DWP said: “Universal Credit is a vital reform that rewards work instead of trapping people on benefits. It will ultimately bring a £38bn economic benefit to society. This report doesn’t take into account our new leadership team, or our progress on delivery. We have already taken comprehensive action including strengthening governance, supplier management and financial controls.”
An article in computerweekly.com has asked whether, in light of the PAC report, G-Cloud and the Government Digital Service can be considered as contenders to manage Universal Credit. The article says that G-Cloud “may indeed be a very sensible approach towards providing a common front-end to citizen-facing on-line and commodity services (like Payroll and HR) that have been unnecessarily “customised”. But it is, as yet “unproven” for “heavy lifting” service delivery.”
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