The programme – which aims to turn multiple benefit payment systems into one and which is estimated to have cost upwards of £100m so far – has been dogged by delays and is regarded as on the verge of being dangerously flawed in implementation.
In April, the Parliamentary Committee called upon the DWP to clarify UC’s end state, claiming the Department had “not been focused” and too much taxpayer money had already been “wasted” on the endeavour, the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
In May, the group of MPs again slammed his plans, fearing that holes in the system were going to increase fraud levels.
However, DWP has now responded robustly to the Committee’s 2013-14 performance report, claiming that the continuing rollout of UC across North West England is enabling it to learn from the imminent nationwide live rollout of the service.
“We are now working to enhance the future service as well rollout – making the best use of the latest technology, the substantial IT we already have in place and the lessons learned from understanding how our claimants use UC,” said the Department.
“Our plan is to make the full transition to UC in a safe and managed way,” it goes on.
“The transition from the current system of benefits and tax credits to UC will be gradual.
“Progressive national rollout started in October 2012 and will be fully available in each part of Great Britain during 2016, having closed down new claims to the legacy benefits it replaced, with the remaining legacy case load moving to UC during 2016 and 2017,” it added.
However, last month, it looked like the UC project could encounter more problems after the Labour party said it would “pause” its rollout if it was elected in the scheduled General Election of May 2015.
Meanwhile public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that it would be published a report on UC by the end of the year.