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?