There has been some uncertainty surrounding the development of the IT system to support Universal Credit last week and over the weekend. The Guardian reported that the system was ‘in meltdown’ and Computer Weekly reported that Stephen Timm, Labour MP for East Ham was adamant that ‘IT contractors have been told to stop work’ on the project, although this has been denied, in part, by Mark Hoban, Minister for Work and Pensions.
Another blog suggested that Hilary Reynolds had been replaced as ‘Universal Credit Programme Director’ after only 3 months in the job and following her revelation ‘that the technology for Universal Credit will not be ready in April, and that the roll-out from October will be much slower than previously expected’. Her letter to local authority chief executives from 3 December 2012 can be found here and a recent Guardian article suggested that local authorities should ‘prepare for the unexpected’.
All of this should be suprising given that DWP spokespeople and David Cameron have both suggested in recent times that ‘Universal Credit is on time and on budget’ in recent months. Perhaps this is the biggest welfare myth of our time….
***Update 13/03/2013 – Paul Spicker posted another interesting piece of news about the Universal Credit pilot on his blog and identified an interesting solution that the government may have come up with***