Treasury 'worried' by universal credit plans

Universal credit rollout appears to be challenging officials
Universal credit rollout appears to be challenging officials

By staff

Officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the timetable for implementing the shakeup of the welfare system, according to a report.

Chancellor George Osborne's concerns about the rollout of the new universal credit, which replaces a raft of benefits, have led to the formation of a team of senior Whitehall officials tasked with overseeing the reform, the Telegraph newspaper reported.

Reports of tensions within the government over the universal credit are nothing new.

The Treasury clashed with work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith last year during the spending review over the planned shakeup.

Now it is intervening again amid concerns HM Revenue and Customs will not be able to deliver the reform on time.

A report from the Commons' public accounts committee earlier this month found that the reform was dependent on new IT services, and that it was based on the "optimistic" assumption that four-fifths of jobseekers would use online services.

"This committee's experience is that such projects are rarely delivered to time, budget and specification, and any delays could put the department's ability to deliver savings at risk," committee chair Margaret Hodge commented at the time.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the Telegraph's story was "completely untrue and utterly without foundation".

A spokesperson said: "Universal credit is running to time and to budget. There has not been and is not any question about the DWP's ability to deliver the required programmes that will support universal credit when it starts in 2013."


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