The Public Accounts Committee has published a short, critical comment on the roll-out of Universal Credit. They remark that
- delays in the process mean that the system cannot be delivering the intended benefits
- for the same reason, the business case cannot be up to date
- “The programme’s lack of clear and specific milestones creates uncertainty for
claimants, advisers, and local authorities, and makes it difficult for Parliament
and taxpayers to hold the Department to account.”
- further delays may increase costs, and
- the DWP has mis-reported the apparent benefits from its evaluation.
I made most of the same points on this blog in November and December last year.
Rather more publicity has been given to an IFS report which notes cuts to the scheme while accepting that it maintains incentives. One of the authors comments, “the potential gains from simplifying the working-age benefit system remain mostly intact. ” I think that’s mistaken, in two ways. First, the scheme still suffers from a fierce p0verty trap, or ‘marginal rate of deduction’; the failure to take into account council tax or national insurance contributions flawed the design from the outset. Second, the cuts that are due to come in in April will mean that Universal Credit will no longer be available to many single people or couples working on the minimum wage. That will mean that it’s pointless to keep oneself registered for UC after getting a job. The scheme was initially supposed to be paid to people both in and out of work, so that people could move seamlessly between the states. That is no longer true.