Universal credit score rollout to price £900million greater than estimated, watchdog says

The full rollout of Universal Credit will price not less than £900million extra and take six years longer than beforehand estimated, in keeping with the general public spending watchdog.

New figures launched by the National Audit Office at the moment present the staggering enhance is essentially right down to inflation and the delayed timetable.

Universal Credit, which replaces six “legacy” advantages together with Child Tax Credits, was launched by the Tories nearly 14 years in the past. The Government remains to be going by way of the method of transferring claimants.

In 2020 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) forecast it could price £2.85billion to implement Universal Credit – a rise of £834million on 2018 estimates. This determine was hiked once more in December 2023 to £2.92billion – an additional enhance of £78million.

Auditors additionally warn at the moment that one in 5 households on the outdated Tax Credits system have had their funds stopped after not switching to Universal Credit. The claimants had been invited to maneuver to the brand new system by the tip 2023 to proceed receiving help.

But the NAO report exhibits that of 150,000 instances closed by the DWP round 31,000 resulted in an individual having their advantages terminated. The watchdog mentioned the Department “does not fully understand why some people on legacy benefits do not claim UC”.

Head of the NAO Gareth Davies mentioned: “DWP is on track to move legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit. But it needs to be sure people who have not switched to Universal Credit are receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.

“Work to evaluate the impact of Universal Credit on the labour market shows some positive impact. However, DWP cannot demonstrate it is achieving the scale of the benefits set out in the programme’s business case. The Department needs to continue to develop its assessment of the impact to provide assurance on value for money and secure the best results when Universal Credit is fully implemented.”

A DWP spokesman said: “The vast majority of Tax Credit claimants have successfully moved to Universal Credit, accessing the vital safety net provided to millions as they build towards financial independence.

“As the NAO recognised, evidence shows Universal Credit is having a sustained positive impact on the jobs market, and people on Universal Credit are more likely to be in work six months after making a claim. There is also a range of support available to help people move, including extensions for those who need extra support.”