Universal Credit 'lies in tatters', claims Labour

Published on Monday, 09 December 2013 09:31
Written by Daniel Mason

Figures from the small print of OBR Autumn Statement show the government's flagship benefit reform, Universal Credit, has been pushed back until after the next general election in latest of a series of blows for David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith's crisis-hit project.

For months the Government has denied reports that Universal Credit is in trouble, repeatedly failing to answer detailed questions. Despite damning reports from the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee, Iain Duncan Smith told MPs as recently as November that it would be delivered exactly according to plan:

  • On 18 November 2013 Iain Duncan Smith said Universal Credit was on course, 'because of the actions I took over a year ago to ensure universal credit will roll out and deliver exactly as we said it would'.
  • On 5 September 2013, Iain Duncan Smith told the house that Universal Credit will be 'On time and within budget'.

Buried in additional tables in the OBR's 'Economic and Fiscal Outlook', published alongside the Autumn statement, was the information that instead of the previously expected 1.7 million people on Universal Credit by 2014-15, there would now just be a handful, 'zero' in statistical terms. And in 2015-16, instead of 4.5million, there would now be just 400,000 - less than 10% of the original target.

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

"David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith repeatedly promised to deliver their flagship policy, Universal Credit, 'on time and within budget'. That claim, and the credibility they staked on it, now lie in tatters.

"For months on end the Government have tried to avoid answering questions about Universal Credit but these OBR figures tell the truth of how David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have broken their promises on a spectacular scale.

"Eight months ago the prediction was that 1.7 million people would be receiving Universal Credit in 2013, now they admit next to nobody will be receiving it. They have been forced to admit that they have completely missed their targets and Universal Credit will not now be rolled out before the election.

"David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are presiding over a complete mess and it is taxpayers who are picking up the bill with at least one hundred million pounds of their money written off. Families facing a cost-of-living crisis deserve better than this."

Source: Labour Party

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