F _ _ K E D – Insert acronym of Universal Credit to reveal welfare nightmare!

I’ve posted many times previously why Universal Credit wont work and even in theory.  My principal reasoning is that UC assesses all claimants for any welfare or housing benefit for ALL benefits they are entitled to receive.  In simple terms its process is a one-stop shop and any claim for say Income Support will also been considered for all other benefits.  This means that there will be – even in theory – a 100% take-up of all benefits each claimant is eligible for.  Given the DWP knows and admits that Working Tax Credit (WTC) has £8.4bn per year that goes unclaimed and Housing Benefit (HB) has £6.9bn known and admitted by central government as unclaimed, then its readily apparent that UC will massively INCREASE the overall benefit bill to the public purse.

Today, I read a well constructed discussion of the implementation of the all bells and whistles IT system for UC in an article by Colin Wiles in Inside Housing.    In it the ever thoughtful Colin begins with this:

Sixteen months from now, the first claimants will start receiving Universal Credit. A brand new office in Warrington will efficiently handle 5,000 claims every day and a state of the art computer system will provide a real-time link up between HMRC and DWP, allowing claimants to manage their claims on line and see exactly where they stand.

Let’s assume this IT system will do what every other large scale IT system doesnt, and work as it was intended to do.  Lets call it a Ronseal IT system – does exactly what it says on the tin and deliver 5,000 UC cases each and every day.  Lets also assume as its online it will operate 365 days a year too.  In short its capacity is 365 x 5000 or 1.8m cases per year.  That is its uber-efficient capacity.

Hang on dont we have 5m HB claims in payment?  Yes we do.  Even assuming no movement at all and every HB claimant stays in their property how can an IT system assess 5 million HB cases (just part of its remit and just one benefit) in a year?  It cant can it?  No it would take 3 years just to asses the ‘housing payment’ element of Universal Credit that is intended to replace the current Housing Benefit.

I dont see the need to comment any further on this at all.  What is the point in considering how the IT system will assess all welfare benefit claims for IS, JSA, ESA, DLA, PIP and a whole host of other benefits if its capacity cant even cope with just the HB workload?

Anyone still believe UC can work even in theory?

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5 thoughts on “F _ _ K E D – Insert acronym of Universal Credit to reveal welfare nightmare!

  1. That’s an interesting take that I hadn’t considered before. If benefits are being packaged into a single claim then they automatically claim for the maximum benefit.

    I think this will be offset by new rates of awards being lower.

    Considering how massive the benefits system is, I would hope they have been modeling the system in a lab to iron out errors and doing this on a massive scale. Long before trials in the real world start.

    I am also assuming we will shortly see local benefit departments disappear, along with job centres when all of this is centralised.

    1. Leigh – National rates exist for welfare benefits (IS/JSA etc) and so the rates cant be reduced. The numbers claiming them can as last months impact assessment on DLA stated clearly. It said 2.2m persons claiming DLA will result in just 1.7m getting its replacement in PIP – so 500,000 disabled persons will lose benefit!

      One point I rasied over a year ago is the role of social landlords. For years they have been working to ensure their tenants claim benefits they are entitled to. Yet if they do that then UC will see less paid for the housing payment to replace HB that UC holds. Also as I stated the theory of UC fails to consider the NTURs of benefits (the £6.9bn pa and £8.4bn known to go unclaimed in HB and WTC) – so the overall benefit bill will rise and UC will not save any money at all.

  2. Also it clearly won’t act as an incentive to work by ensuring people get more for working then they do on benefits as it doesn’t include council tax. Councils can charge what they like when they like and that means working for an extra fiver a week which you keep thanks to UC may well see you £50 a week worse off due to demands from the council. Since UC clearly can’t perform its stated aim then, what’s it really for? I’d suggest bringing it in knowing it can’t work is a convenient way of abandoning everyone on benefits so bringing an end to the benefits system in the UK. Millions will die but I don’t suppose any key players involved from either political party would have any concern about that. The British Establishment, strongly represented in all three major parties, has a long history of indifference to the sufferings of the broader community. I see no reason why they’d change their ways now.

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