Iain Duncan Smith to meet Universal Credit target in 700 years’ time
Ian Duncan Smith promised that more than a million people would be signed up to his universal credit scheme by April 2014, with twelve million signed up by 2017.
However, new figures released today reveal the DWP currently have just 17,850 people on their caseload.
This means that at the current rate of progress, it will take them almost 700 more years to meet their original target of twelve million.
I think by that point even Duncan Smith may have to admit that there are problems with the scheme.
Duncan Smith has remained fiercely defensive of the programme despite it being dogged by multiple difficulties over the years.
An investigation by the NAO last year found that the scheme suffered from "weak management, ineffective control and poor governance," and had "not achieved value for money".
Earlier this year, the Major Projects Authority revealed that the scheme had been 'reset' by auditors, following earlier assessments that the scheme was at serious risk of failure.
The work and pensions secretary has repeatedly blocked publication of reports detailing the failure of the scheme.
Labour today pounced on the new figures, calling for an inquiry into whether to push ahead with the troubled scheme.
"At this rate it will take centuries to roll out Universal Credit across the country," shadow welfare reform minister, Chris Bryant said.
"A Labour government will call in the National Audit Office to urgently review Universal Credit to see what can be salvaged from the shambles which David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have left."
The DWP today insisted the scheme was being rolled out in good time.
"Universal Credit is already making work pay in one in ten jobcentres and will be rolled out nationally from next year," a spokesperson said.
"When fully in place the economy will benefit by £7bn each year."