The department of work health and pensions is 8 years into the roll out Universal Credit and by now it really ought to know that its working, but as our report shows whilst its got a grip onto the programme management its not achieving value for money now, and we don’t know whether it will achieve value for money in future.
The department wants Universal Credit to save at £99 million a year on its running costs, but this is too close to call. Moreover the department wants Universal Credit to get 200,000 extra people into work, but it hasn’t got a way of actually measuring that this is happening, and therefore it’s not going to be able to prove that Universal Credit is working.
Meanwhile Universal Credit is having an impact on the claimants. A significant minority are struggling to make a claim online, they are struggling to get by whilst waiting for their first payment and they are struggling to cope with the fluctuating income Universal Credit provides. This is made worse because the department is not paying 1 in 5 people on time, it’s also not paying in fact 1 in 20 people in full 5 months after they’ve made there original claim.
The department has gone too far to go back now, in fact there are 1 million people already on Universal Credit and by the end of this year they would have rolled out a digital system across the entire country. After that they still need to transfer 7 million people from the old benefits onto this new one.
Our recommendation to them is that they pause to make sure they’re ready to do that, but when they do it make sure they monitor the real impact on those claimants so that it can adapt the programme as it goes along.
If you’d like to read our report visit our website.