The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
“Universal Credit is the DWP’s single biggest programme and enjoys cross-party support, yet its implementation has been extraordinarily poor.
“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. £425 million has been spent so far on the programme. It is likely that much of this, including at least £140 million worth of IT assets, will now have to be written off.
“The management of the programme has been alarmingly weak. 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. Lack of day-to-day control meant early warning signs were missed, with senior managers becoming aware of problems only through ad hoc reviews.
“Pressure to deliver a programme of this magnitude within such an ambitious timescale created a fortress culture where only good news was reported and problems were denied. Because they had no overall view of what was going on and no system to monitor progress, the Department’s Universal Credit team became isolated and defensive.
“We believe strongly that meeting any specific timetable from now on is less important than delivering the programme successfully.
Our comment: They should have asked for advice from those Older people who had experience of the problems associated with introducing large IT systems before embarking on yet another ambitious project like the Health Service fiasco.