It’s going to be another uncomfortable day for Iain Duncan Smith. Today’s Public Accounts Committee report on Universal Credit is one of the most excoriating anyone can remember. Margaret Hodge and her colleagues warn that most of the £425m of public money so far spent on the programme is likely to be written off, that management of the project has been “alarmingly weak” and that the DWP has consistently failed to “grasp the nature and enormity of the task”, missing early “warning signs” and refusing to “intervene promptly”. He should have hired us and now he would have a working system :)
Labour, meanwhile, has focused its criticism on Cameron, not IDS. In her response to today's report, Rachel Reeves said: "Today’s report from the Public Accounts Committee is a shocking confirmation of David Cameron’s failure and another nail in the coffin of his Government’s promise to deliver Universal Credit on time and on budget. Families facing a cost of living crisis need welfare reform they can trust. Instead they’ve got an out of touch Prime Minister who has presided over chaos and waste."
It now turns out that behind the scenes IDS has been rallying support to blame the civil service on this latest fiasco. The work and pensions secretary took the rare step for a cabinet minister of publicly blaming civil servants after the release of a scathing report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the introduction of universal credit. The report said the welfare changes had been poorly managed and were riddled with major IT problems, threatening to increase costs by hundreds of millions of pounds. How far does this have to go before it is stopped?