Thursday, 5 September 2013
SNP Westminster welfare spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has condemned the UK Government as a spending watchdog has said welfare reform has been badly managed, is “over ambitious” and is poor value for money.
The National Audit Office said risks were taken with the universal credit to hit targets, IT systems had "limited functionality" and an unfamiliar project management approach was used.
Under the government's plans, six key means-tested benefits - jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, income support and child tax credit - are to be combined into a single payment which ministers say will ensure that claimants are always better off in work and also reduce fraud. All new claimants were supposed to receive the universal credit from next month as part of a phased implementation plan but this has been delayed following a number of pilots earlier this year.
Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:
“Expenditure on IT systems has accounted for more than 70% of the £425m spent to date but the report suggested officials do not yet know whether the infrastructure in place will support a national rollout.
“We already knew the Tory- Lib Dem government’s welfare reforms were discriminatory, but we can now see the extent of how badly managed this project is.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. Scotland has already made its opposition to welfare cuts absolutely clear, and a majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare policy for Scotland.”