The farce that is Iain Duncan Smith’s crusade is estimated to have cost the taxpayer at least £420 million, much of which has been totally wasted.
Universal Credit is a failure, and the Commons Public Accounts Committee has criticised the scheme’s implementation and management as ‘alarmingly weak’.
Approximately £141 million spent on IT systems and the technical infrastructure will have to be written off because the systems are unfit for purpose and have no worth which could be reclaimed.
Part of the diabolically poor management of the scheme was in payment authorisations to suppliers. In one example, a secretary was allowed to authorise purchase orders worth £23 million, and in some cases it is unclear what the suppliers have been paid for. No doubt there were some dodgy dealings going on involving the old-boys network – as we have come to expect from anything involving government schemes and large amounts of cash.
As with Duncan Smith’s Work Programme, the only real beneficiaries will be those providing services and equipment to the scheme.
The chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, said in the report “The failure to develop a comprehensive plan has led to extensive delay and the waste of a yet-to-be-determined amount of public money,” she said. “£425m has been spent so far … It is likely that much of this, including at least £140m of IT assets, will now have to be written off. From the outset, the department has failed to grasp the nature and enormity of the task; failed to monitor and challenge progress regularly; and, when problems arose, failed to intervene promptly,” she said.
Hodge also claimed that the pilot programme is not a proper pilot. “It does not deal with the key issues that universal credit must address: the volume of claims; their complexity; change in claimants’ circumstances; and the need for claimants to meet conditions for continuing entitlement to benefit,” she said.
In an obvious buck-passing exercise, Duncan Smith has previously blamed civil servants for the failure of his universal credit programme, refusing to take any responsibility for his part and influence on the project.
In response to Duncan Smith’s criticism, Rob O’Neil, assistant general secretary of the FDA union, said “Ministers must accept their responsibilities for any difficulties in the delivery of the project. It is ministers who determine the priorities, time scales and resources available. It is unrealistic to expect simple solutions to complex problems.”
Fellow Conservatives have also criticised Duncan Smith and his handling of the universal credit project, as well as MPs from other sides of the house.
Of course, David Cameron is protecting ‘his boys’ and supporting Duncan Smith – which is to be expected of peas from the same pod.
This is what happens when you allow someone who is a liar (there is plenty of documented evidence showing that Duncan Smith has a history if lying his way through life) with a well over inflated view of themselves and their abilities to take charge of something unchallenged. Duncan Smith’s bullying is also well reported so it is no wonder that anyone involved in the same project as him will want to keep their heads down and only give him ‘good news’.
Universal credit will continue to be a lumbering mess and drain on tax resources while Duncan Smith has anything at all to do with it. The traits he exhibits (many of which are clinically psychopathic) are not conducive to the good of the country or any person in it.
Universal credit may have worked if it were properly thought out, the system designed to make life easier for people receiving benefits, and the financial incentive for companies and suppliers removed. The prime reason for changing anything is to make it easier and fairer for the people of the country – not to massage Duncan Smith’s ego.
While the public allow morons like Duncan Smith to be in a position of power and backed by other idiots in the government it is highly unlikely that anything will change, and universal credit will be forced onto the population regardless of cost financially or to the lives of the people who will face severe disruption and hardship as a result.