In response to the National Audit Office report Universal Credit: early progress on 5 September 2013, a DWP spokesperson said:
Universal Credit is a vital reform that will ensure we have a welfare system that means people are always better off in work than on benefits and we are a country that truly backs those who work hard and want to get on.
We are committed to delivering Universal Credit on time by 2017 and within budget, and under new leadership we have a plan in place that is achievable.
The report does not cover the significant developments we’ve made since April including the go live in Greater Manchester, our progress on the IT challenge, the latest plans for expansion from October, or the fact that we brought in 2 of the country’s leading project management experts to lead Universal Credit.
The National Audit Office itself concludes that Universal Credit can go on to achieve considerable benefits for society.
The Universal Credit Pathfinder was launched in April 2013 in Ashton-under-Lyne and was expanded to Wigan, Oldham and Warrington.
Universal Credit will expand to 6 new Jobcentres between October 2013 and Spring 2014. The following Jobcentres will be included: Hammersmith, Rugby, Inverness, Harrogate, Bath, Shotton.
From October 2013, around 100 jobcentres a month will begin using the Claimant Commitment with new jobseekers, until it is in place across the country. The commitment acts as a contract between the jobseeker and the State, detailing the steps jobseekers will take to find work and the consequences if they fail to meet their obligations. This will be an important part of Universal Credit and will involve training 20,000 Jobcentre Plus advisers.
Across Jobcentres, 6,000 new computers will be installed for claimants to use to increase digital access.
Universal Credit will provide major benefits for claimants and the country as a whole – with 300,000 additional people expected to move into work with clear financial incentives and 3 million claimants better off.
Howard Shiplee, former Director of Construction for the London 2012 Olympics and a man with a proven track record for delivery, was brought in to lead the delivery of Universal Credit in May 2013.
Howard Shiplee has reviewed Universal Credit delivery plans and ensured a achievable and safe plan is in place backed by sound governance, leadership and financial management.
David Pitchford from the Major Projects Authority stepped to lead the Universal Credit project, following the death of Philip Langsdale late last year. In July 2013, ministers accepted the findings of his review and that they should explore enhancing the IT for Universal Credit working with the Government Digital Service.