Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jul 12, 2013 7:38:47 GMT
Universal Credit going 'global' from October 2013
Here's how the 'roll out' continues to
'sweep' the UK...
Well, not quite....
The revolutionary simplification of the UK's benefit system, a world leading example to all in 'making work pay' is now according to the latest DWP press release set to expand across the nation from October 2013. Don't get too excited though because the roll out which promises to turn around the lives of 8 million households is being extended from all of four jobcentres (two of which are not yet operational) to a further six - making a grand total of ten.
At this stage I should point out that 10 Jobcentres is a teeny weeny proportion of the 1,012 which apparently existed within the DWP estate for England & Wales according to ministerial questions in 2008 I won't embarrass the DWP with the exact percentage other than to point out that it's considerably below 1%.
The spectacularly unimpressive roll out becomes even more of a let down when we learn that the next stage of progression is still only going to focus on the more simplified cases revolving around the most straightforward of Jobseeker's Allowance claims.
So far Universal Credit can (allegedly) be claimed in the following four areas:
(3) Oldham (not yet operational)
(4) Warrington (not yet operational)
Here's the additional six jobcentres, details of the claimant count in each area will follow....
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jul 14, 2013 12:02:53 GMT
The much promised fairy tale ending?
"We will bring in this reform safely and by 2017. It will make a huge difference to people's lives and bring fairness to the system and that's why it's vital we get it right."
And every one lived happily ever after?
I really don't think so....
How the rhetoric changes. No sooner had IDS taken up his position with the DWP in the Coalition back in 2010, that he was grossly misleading the general public in to believing that they had all the answers on welfare & would be able to simplify all benefit payments in to 'one single streamlined payment'. No one in their right mind is going to think that's a bad idea.
People who've battled with the complexities of the benefits systems are obviously going to favour the idea of any government which pledges to get to grips with simplifying the process of claiming benefits. It's clearly a tactic of this government to over promote the promises from the outset and then keep quiet over how none of them are being met. It's why all the fireworks and fanfare headlines in the right wing media have been crucial to them in gaining the confidence of the voter from the word go.
The problem is we've moved on from promises, government is three years off from the starting blocks and now showing every sign of running out of ideas in the run up to the forthcoming general election in May 2015 - it's now got around 21 months to deliver upon what the public are expecting.
It's no longer a rhetoric about what will be achieved by 2015; all promises are now extended to beyond the next general election with 2017 generally being the time by which we should start to see some results.
It's not going to happen.
Lord Freud strategically changes the tone to one of taking the next step in the implementation of Universal Credit. It's nothing short of ludicrous to go on pretending that Universal Credit is on time or on track, though it perhaps shouldn't surprise anyone to be told it's on budget. I'd be deeply worried if it had run over budget given that to date Universal Credit is operational from only two Jobcentres out of over a thousand in the UK with promises that two more will become operational by the end of the month.
What is absolutely astounding is that by October of this year the Government has conceded Universal Credit will only be operational from 10 Jobcentres, what makes it all the worse is that it will continue to be centred only on straightforward Jobseeker Allowance claims. When the DWP talks about testing the systems ability to cope with additional complexity what they mean is still within the JSA cohort. In otherwise they'll seemingly be waiting for a single Jobseeker to get hitched up with a partner and maybe even go on to bring some children in to the equation. I cannot see how this can possibly extend to including sets of disabled claimants or those who face the wide ranging complexities which have challenged the benefits system for years.
To fail to open Universal Credit up to claimants outside of the JSA set is nothing short of crazy. It is only by loading it with the full range of inter claim related problems such as merging ESA and Income Support with Tax Credits & Housing Benefit that you begin to unearth the system's ability to properly cope. There are thousands upon thousands of problems associated with overlapping benefits, overpayments, avoiding duplicated payments, the effect of retrospective awards made upon appeal as well as transitional protection which Universal Credit has yet to conquer before there is any prospect of being able to promise fairy tale endings in 2017.
This is showing all the signs of catastrophic failure from an early stage. What's deeply concerning is this overly academic government's total inability to admit they make mistakes or to consider how they may have badly miscalculated the impact of their reforms. Their failure to recognise the need for any form of cumulative impact assessment is a clear warning bell that they simply do not know how deeply stuck in the mud they have become. It's absolutely inexcusable for Lord Freud to announce 3 years down the line that they've not gone for a 'big bang' approach - when the reality is the plans to revolutionise the benefits system are still very much on the drawing board with technicians scratching their heads and wondering how it's all going to work.
The truth is that the failure is far more than just computer glitches, it's an inability to build a system which can cope with so many different claim scenarios - it's more difficult than cracking an enigma code. It's clearly why the DWP are still stuck on manual and unable to open the system up to how it must be tested before any more promises are made over the end results.
I'd compare the need to test Universal credit with the same degree of robustness as they do before declaring a car component fit to be attached to a vehicle on the production line. Such components are tested for thousands and thousands of miles under wide ranging conditions to test their structural integrity before being okayed for use on any motor car. Likewise Universal credit should be fully loaded and tested to the point of destruction to see that any inherent flaws are highlighted and ironed out.
Light touch, steady as you go testing is not the answer.
If the DWP proceeds at this pace there is zero chance of Universal Credit turning around the lives of any where near 8 million households by the end of 2020 let alone 2017.
Post by StephenMichael on Jul 15, 2013 7:28:02 GMT
Universal Credit? Universal DISCREDIT, more like, say insiders
Government sources reveal 'one dole to rule them all' in 'total disarray'
By Jasper Hamill, 10th July 2013
Exclusive The controversial Universal Credit online benefits system is so flawed that skilled IT staff working on a pilot scheme have been forced to enter data by hand, two high-ranking whistleblowers have told The Register.
The senior civil servants contacted us separately to warn that a trial of the new benefits system shows it is simply not working at the moment.
The Universal Credit is intended to replace the laborious and complex manual benefits system with one monthly payment which can be claimed by applying online using an automated system. But one of the moles said the project was "in total disarray, with the government trying to do something massive and unprecedented, yet without the culture or operational infrastructure to do so".
The system is currently being tested at a “Pathfinder” project in several locations around Greater Manchester. Our sources painted a woeful picture of mismanagement, bureaucratic bumbling and organisational chaos which could mean the system may never live up to the promises made by Iain Duncan Smith, the scheme's greatest champion.
Whitehall wants to start rolling out the Universal Credit in October, but our sources warned that the system was "not scalable”, meaning this deadline could be little more than a pipe dream.
They warned that unless there were drastic changes to this system, it would not work as advertised and would still require full time clerical staff to handle applications and "hold the hands" of dole claimants.
IT work 'paused' while staff plug holes
During the test period, our sources claimed, civil servants have had to do the sort of basic tasks that were originally intended to be done automatically, like data entry and the verification of basic information about a client such as date of birth, address or right to claim the dole - even though a small number of clients with relatively simple personal situations have been chosen to take part.
The current Pathfinder system is so flawed that IT work has been “paused”, so that staff can concentrate on plugging holes, our source claimed.
The “national roll-out” of Universal Credit will now only see the new system running at a handful of JobCentres across the UK this year, ministers confirmed.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, insisted that Universal Credit remains on track and will fully operational by 2017. A more gradual timetable means the reform will be delivered “safely,” he said.
Universal Credit will merge several individual benefits for millions of working-age people into one payment. The sum paid to claimants will then be automatically adjusted to ensure that claimants are always better off in work than on welfare.
The new system requires the creation of two highly complex computer systems, one run by Mr Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions, the other by HM Revenue and Customs.
The scale and complexity of the new system has led to repeated warnings from Whitehall officials about potential problems and delays
DWP employees criticise environment of poor management and high stress in leaked internal survey
Shiv Malik & Patrick Wintour The Guardian 2nd August 2013
Universal Credit is the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary. Photograph: Ian Nicholson/PA
Staff working on the biggest shakeup of the welfare state in its history have described the project as "soul-destroying" and "unbelievably frustrating", with some saying they are under so much pressure that they can only engage in "firefighting and panic management".
A leaked internal survey of scores of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employees working on the government's flagship Universal Credit programme describes an environment of poor management and high levels of stress. Labour said the survey was "utterly damning".
Universal Credit (UC) – the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary – seeks to streamline and integrate benefit payments for millions of claimants. It is a huge IT project that has been hit with a number of setbacks in recent months.
Interim results of the staff survey selected by the DWP's business change director and distributed back to staff last week were mainly negative. One civil servant writes of "a near complete absence of anything that looks like strategic leadership in the programme". Another says: "There is a divisive culture of secrecy around current programme developments and very little in the way of meaningful messages for staff or stakeholders explaining what will happen and when."
Taking a direct swipe at managers, another civil servant says: "I have never worked somewhere where decision making was so apparently poor at senior levels … and communications from that level was totally nonexistent. This programme should be a case study for how not to engage with your people to get the most out of them."
In an email to programme staff on 23 July, the business change director, a senior civil servant, admits that the initial findings from the survey revealed that there was "much room for improvement".
"We received some very honest comments, which is exactly what we need if we are truly going to address your concerns and make things better … Many comments focused on communication – colleagues were unclear about both their role and future plans for UC. There were also a significant number of comments about senior leadership and the culture within UC.
"Clearly there is much room for improvement and we are starting from a pretty low base. However, without this honesty it would be much harder to tackle positively and move forward. With your help we will do all we can to make Universal Credit the great place to work that we all want it to be."
The report found that 68% of employees responded to the survey. The highest ratings came from staff who said they were "treated fairly and without discrimination". However, the lowest ratings were given when staff were asked if "senior leaders listen to my concerns and act on them" and "I understand the programme vision for UC and what success looks like".
Comments included: "After 29 years of service this has been the most soul-destroying work I have done," and: "There is too much dishonesty and no one ever admits to making a mistake."
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Aug 19, 2013 17:36:22 GMT
Benefit reforms were too risky, says minister
Universal Credit, the Government's flagship welfare reform, became too complicated, too risky, and required a fundamental rethink, a minister has said.
Universal Credit will combine benefits and tax credits into one monthly payment and will be claimed onlinePhoto: EPA By James Kirkup, Deputy Political Editor 19th August 2013
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, oversees the Whitehall troubleshooters who have been reviewing the huge welfare project after fears over its implementation.
He said that the scheme became so complicated that it was "not capable of being implemented sensibly".
Universal Credit will merge several individual benefits for millions of working–age people into one payment. The sum paid to claimants will be automatically adjusted to ensure they are always better off in work than on welfare.
Devised by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Universal Credit is regarded as one of the most significant domestic reforms the Coalition is attempting.
The scale and complexity of the system has led to repeated warnings from Whitehall officials about potential problems and delays, although Mr Duncan Smith has repeatedly insisted that it remains on budget and on track to be fully implemented by 2017.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Aug 20, 2013 11:43:56 GMT
Prepare to add HS2 and Universal Credit to our depressing list of fiascos
From the poll tax to HS2, ministers seem incapable of calling a halt to a failing policy By Philip Johnston 19th August 2013
What do the following have in common: the poll tax, the Exchange Rate Mechanism, Individual Learning Accounts, the Assets Recovery Agency, the Child Support Agency, the NHS patient data system, ID cards, HS2 and Universal Credit? They were all policies to which ministers stubbornly stuck despite warnings that they would fail – until they did, whereupon they were either abandoned or salvaged only at vast cost to the taxpayer.
You might have noticed that I sneakily added HS2 and Universal Credit to this list of fiascos, when neither has happened yet. But they show worrying signs of following the now-familiar pattern of their predecessors. The claim by the IEA think tank that the proposed high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will cost more than £80 billion – double the current estimate – should be setting alarm bells ringing around Whitehall. Instead, they are circling the wagons against hostile fire, insisting that the costs will not overrun (they will) and that the project will be built on time (it won’t).
Unlike many of the failures listed above, HS2 has cross-party support; but if Labour sensed some political advantage to be had in dropping its support for the project, the chances of its being built would recede. For now, however, HS2’s most probable fate is to be regarded at some point in the distant future as an expensive white elephant, like Concorde. Its difficulty is that cost-benefit analysis gives scant credit to the wider benefits such a rail link might bring in terms of economic regeneration, since these will be hard to quantify and no one will listen anyway.
Universal Credit is a more promising candidate to join the sorry litany of government debacles. This is the system that will replace the last government’s flawed tax credits, Gordon Brown’s fiendishly complex mechanism for wealth transfer that managed to entrench welfare dependency while wasting billions of pounds through incompetent administration and inadequate IT.
The new Universal Credit is intended to be a simpler approach, which has the added advantage of ensuring that it will always pay to be in work rather than on benefits.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 4, 2013 21:15:28 GMT
Universal Credit IT programme not fit for purpose, sources warn
New UC project director Howard Shiplee said to have ordered redesign of software for DWP's flagship scheme
By Shiv Malik, the Guardian 4th September 2013
The Universal Credit IT system may need a complete redesign, insiders say. Photograph: Richard Milnes/Demotix/Corbis
The Department for Work and Pensions has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on software for its flagship welfareproject that may not be fit for purpose, the Guardian has been told.
Hundreds of millions has been spent on software to support the government's flagship Universal Credit scheme, which may not be able to support administering the benefit. Sources close to the DWP's Universal Credit project, which seeks to streamline and automate benefit payments and tax credits for 12 million people, indicate that upwards of £270m has already been spent in government contracts with IBM, Hewlett Packard and BT. Accenture is understood to have received the lion's share of the work, winning more than £110m.
However on taking his post a little over three months ago, insiders say that UC's new project director Howard Shiplee has ordered a complete rethink and ordered a thorough redesign of current software. Senior staff have warned that even after two years systems to prevent fraud and breaches of very sensitive financial data, categorised as "incredibly critical" to the project, are yet to be completed.
Other essential pieces of software including a calculator for staff to advise clients whether millions of their claimants will be financially better off doing more work, have only been ordered from Accenture in the last few weeks. "Without that they can't calculate when someone does go into work, what their top up should be," one source said.
Writing in the Telegraph before the publication of a national audit office report on Thursday, Shiplee said the project had faced a series of problems. Staff have been told to be braced for heavy criticism.
“The Department’s plans for Universal Credit were driven by an ambitious timescale, and this led to the adoption of a systems development approach new to the Department. The relatively high risk trajectory was not, however, matched by an appropriate management approach. Instead, the programme suffered from weak management, ineffective control and poor governance. Universal Credit could well go on to achieve considerable benefits if the Department learns from these early setbacks and puts realistic plans and strong discipline in place for its future roll-out.”
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 5 September 2013
The National Audit Office has concluded that the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money in its early implementation of Universal Credit. The Department is not yet able to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop and has been forced to delay the national roll-out of the programme to claimants.
Today’s report concludes that the Department was overly ambitious in both the timetable and scope of the programme. The Department took risks to try to meet the short timescale and used a new project management approach which it had never before used on a programme of this size and complexity. It was unable to explain how it originally decided on its ambitious plans or evaluated their feasibility.
Given the tight timescale, unfamiliar project management approach and lack of a detailed plan, it was critical that the Department should have good progress information and effective controls. In practice the Department did not have any adequate measures of progress.
In early 2013, the Department was forced to stop work on its plans for national roll-out and reassess its options for the future. The programme still has potential to create significant benefits for society, but the Department must scale back its delivery ambition and set out realistic plans.
Over 70 per cent of the £425 million spent to date has been on IT systems. The Department, however, has already written off £34 million of its new IT systems and does not yet know if they will support national roll-out. The existing systems offer limited functionality. For instance, the current IT system lacks a component to identify potentially fraudulent claims so that the Department has to rely on multiple manual checks on claims and payments. Such checks will not be feasible or adequate once the system is running nationally. Problems with the IT system have delayed national roll-out of the programme.
The Department will not introduce Universal Credit for all new claims nationally in October 2013 as planned, and is now reconsidering its plans for full roll-out. Instead, it will extend the pilots to six more sites with these new sites taking on only the simplest claims. Delays to the roll-out will reduce the expected benefits of reform and – if the Department maintains a 2017 completion date – increase risks by requiring the rapid migration of a large volume of claimants.
The spending watchdog found that the Department took some action at the end of 2012 to resolve problems, but was unable to address the underlying issues effectively. The source of many problems has been the absence of a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work. In addition, poor control and decision-making undermined confidence in the programme and contributed to a lack of progress. The Department has particularly lacked IT expertise and senior leadership, with frequent changes in senior management.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 5, 2013 16:17:43 GMT
IDS: A bad loser?
Duncan Smith can't avoid the blame for the Universal Credit disaster The Work and Pensions Secretary tried to pass the buck to the civil service but the NAO report says he never explained how "Universal Credit is meant to work". By George Eaton. 5th September 2013
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London. Photograph: Getty Images.
After the publication of the National Audit Office's excoriating report on Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith could hardly deny that the project hasn't gone to plan.
Of Universal Credit, which will replace six of the main benefits and tax credits with a single payment, the NAO states that "throughout the programme the Department has lacked a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work", that the 2017 national roll-out date is in serious doubt, that the department "has not achieved value for money", with £34m of IT programmes written off, that the current IT system "lacks the ability to identify potentially fraudulent claims" and that the DWP repeatedly ignored warnings about the viability of the project.
But rather than accept responsbility for these failures, as Work and Pensions Secretary, Duncan Smith has sought to shift the blame onto the civil service. Interviewed on the Today programme this morning, he declared that "what went wrong was the Universal Credit team" and that "those charged with actually putting together the detail of the IT...did not make the correct decisions". At no point did he answer the damning charge from the NAO that "the source of many problems has been the absence of a detailed view of Universal Credit is meant to work", something which, as secretary of state, it was Duncan Smith's responsibility to provide.
It's not as if he wasn't warned. Back in October 2010, the Chartered Institute of Taxation noted in its response to the government's consultation:
The document suggests that the IT changes required would not constitute a major project, and this was repeated by the Secretary of State [Iain Duncan Smith] when he gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee. We are sceptical about this.
Even now, Duncan Smith remains in denial about the extent of his failure. He repeatedly claimed that Universal Credit would be delivered "in time" but the reality is that it has been dramatically scaled back.