The rollout of Universal Credit (UC) – a scheme that combines six benefits into one payment – will be “paused” if the Labour Party gains power in the next election.
“We set up a UC rescue committee in the autumn of last year because we had seen, from the National Audit Office (NAO) and from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), report after report showing that this project is massively over budget and it is not going to be delivering according to the government timetable,” claimed Reeves.
Reeves continued to explain that should Labour be elected, building the system will halt for a three-month period and the NAO will be called in to do a full report on it, adding that this would not affect the pilot schemes that have already been rolled out.
However, the shadow secretary also claimed that there is no need to wait for a general election to “save” UC – she urged Ministers to take this step today.
Following Reeves’ statements to the UK press, the NAO has revealed to a UK IT publication that is intends to publish another UC report by the end of this year.
However, the organisation stressed this next examination has been planned for some time and is not a direct reaction to the interview with Reeves.
Its previous report on UC revealed huge amounts of money wasted on the system, as well as implementation and management issues.
Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary for Work and Pensions, took over the benefits projects around a year ago and has claimed a “much better” strategy is now in place.
Responding to suggests that UC might be cancelled altogether, he said it was “complete nonsense.”
“All our IT at the moment is working and it’s working well, which is why we’ve taken the decision to roll it out to the whole of the North West,” he claimed.