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back to article Universal Credit IT system could lead to MORE FRAUD, MPs warn

The number of benefit cheats in the UK could rise thanks to yet more IT problems with the government's new Universal Credit system, MPs warn. A communities and local government committee report published on Wednesday cast more doubt over the "readiness" of the Department for Work and Pensions' Universal Credit system - which …

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Facepalm

Security: Built-In or Bolt On? Oh not again

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Politics and software

Government software projects are always, above all, politically correct. And we all know how secure politically correct software is. Bolt on it is then.

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Anonymous Coward

Security and Fraud are different things in this world. Security - built in, fraud - bolt on. Justifiable concerns in my educated opinion

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Headmaster

"This is extremely concerning"

Just like your clumsy grammar, Clive.

This is extremely concerning This is of great concern

2/10 poor effort.

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Facepalm

Re: "This is extremely concerning"

Yes. Bad grammar is, without a doubt, the biggest problem facing the UC rollout...

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Holmes

Re: "This is extremely concerning"

Also know as 'Shit communication'

Something all IT projects get mullered by.

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Re: "This is extremely concerning"

Also know as 'Shit communication'

Something all IT projects get mullered by.

Nothing to do with 'Unrealistic expectations" or 'Ever-changing playing field' then?

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So how many seperate databases

So how many seperate databases which define "house" does the government need?

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Joke

Re: So how many seperate databases

One per house. Obvious, innit?

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Black Helicopters

blah blah benefit cheats blah blah

Who cares, in comparison with the amount lost to tax dodgers?

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Re: blah blah benefit cheats blah blah

Hell, they could double the amounts that benefits pays and it would still be a drop in the ocean.

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Re: blah blah benefit cheats blah blah

>>they could double the amounts that benefits pays and it would still be a drop in the ocean<<

Projected spending on welfare for the year 2013 is £117 billion. Approx. 1/10 of our national debt (£1,159 trillion).

http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/year_spending_2013UKbn_12bc1n#ukgs302

I suspect that you actually refer to just a small part of the welfare budget. (such as JSA) Certainly, for the recipients, even modest increases could make a huge difference to them.

As for the new system, chances are that it will cost a lot more than any actual savings they eventually make.

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Re: blah blah benefit cheats blah blah

Me culpa

>>Approx. 1/10 of our national debt (£1,159 trillion).<<

Should be "Approx. 1/10 of our national debt (£1.159 trillion)."

Spent too much time working with Europeans - getting the full stop and comma mixed up for decimal and thousand separators.

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Re: blah blah benefit cheats blah blah

Should be "Approx. 1/10 of our national debt (£1.159 trillion).

Although that's largely irrelevant. The welfare budget is current spend, the national debt is the excess and cumulative spending of past governments.

The real comparison is either with the total government fritter, or with the deficit, (the £120bn a year more that government spend over what they raise in taxes).

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Fraud proof

The system, as delivered, will be 100% proof against fraudulent access to benefits. Admittedly that's because it's not going to work at all but, once the claimants have all starved to death, DWP can go straight to Phase 2 (decommissioning).

It's a brilliant plan.

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Re: Fraud proof

Your logic is flawless.

+1

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Unhappy

Man i/c of enormo-pervassive new dole system says "no problems here"

Strangely I find myself deeply unreassured.

Small factoid. Despite recent coverage in the Daily jailbait Heil the proportion of families with more than 2 children claiming benefits is <<1% of all claims.

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LPF

Re: Man i/c of enormo-pervassive new dole system says "no problems here"

The questions is what propotion to they get of the overall total. Just becuase your 1 ina hundred if you geta 1000 times more than anyone else, then you make a big difference!

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WTF?

Re: Man i/c of enormo-pervassive new dole system says "no problems here"

Just becuase your 1 ina hundred if you geta 1000 times more than anyone else, then you make a big difference!

Does not compute...

The Daily Mail should hire you to write for them.

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Re: Man i/c of enormo-pervassive new dole system says "no problems here"

No, if there are exactly 100 claimants then there could exist one who is getting "1000 times more than anyone else" But if there are 100 claimants then we are building a nuclear bomb to crack a hazelnut.

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Re: Man i/c of enormo-pervassive new dole system says "no problems here"

"The questions is what propotion to they get of the overall total. Just becuase your 1 ina hundred if you geta 1000 times more than anyone else, then you make a big difference!"

Just a quick calculation, but working from a minimum payment someone would get ( single person living on their own HB+JSA+CT), then you would have the person claiming a 1000 times as much getting paid £8704000.

Even the daily mail hasnt gone that far. :)

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Facepalm

Re: Man i/c of enormo-pervassive new dole system says "no problems here"

"Even the daily mail hasnt gone that far. :)"

They will now you gave them the idea.

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FAIL

I hate to state the obvious but

"The system would not work from local authority property databases and so it would not be able to detect automatically, as local systems did now, when multiple individuals made a housing benefit claim for the same property."

And therein lies the problem. The expectation is that the new system has to interface with many, many other systems ranging from RDBMS' of all flavours, to flat file based systems that have to be delivered by USB stick (I shit you not).

A system is ONLY as good as its weakest element and since it is forced to work with all these other prehistoric systems using a wide variety of gateways and information exchanges, you can't really blame it if it isn't the new electronic messiah.

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Re: I hate to state the obvious but

You forgot to include lashed up excel spreadsheet with badly written code underneath that's been added to over the last 15 years as new legislation has come in, or whenever someone thought they might like an occasional non-standard report. With a few manual workarounds to transfer the data from the spreadsheet to an access database that holds a different subset of the data.

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Anonymous Coward

lol

so funny!

not so good for the poor bleeders on the dole though.

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Joke

Even If All The Creases Are Ironed Out...

We know from past experience that the server that runs the UC system will be left in a pub by a drunk government worker.

It will be found and handed over to The Sun, who discover that the admin password is '1234' and the folder containing the database has its sharing permissions set to 'Everyone'...

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Holmes

And I

bet the cost overruns and the fact that 10% of claiments will be using the job center's computers to do the claiming couple with the cost overruns, and the bad security cost overrun, means that the estimate for how much the complete system with cost has overrun and we end up paying £4 billion to scrap the whole lot and start again (£5 billion because that cost will overrun too).

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Re: And I

So, let's start over. Say you didn't have ministers demanding mega systems to support their latest political wheeze. Imagine instead building a system that, while enabling them to deliver on their ill-considered brain-farts, was itself rationally architected.

You have an entity (citizen) who sometimes receives money from the government (benefits, tax refunds, compensation, etc.) and who sometimes pays money to the government (tax, licenses, fines, etc.). Doesn't that sound rather like a bank customer with a bank account? Aren't there already off-the-shelf proven robust platforms for handling millions of banking customers and billions of transactions? Don't they also handle corporate clients?

Install such a system – and do it once only. Give every citizen an individual account. Give every government department a corporate account. It will all just work. Plus, you get to leverage all the proven add-ons for accounting, interfacing to other systems, etc.

So, when some minidrone says something like 'Let's pay out child support payments via ATMs', the admins can say, 'OK, not a problem', and then head confidently to the pub.

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Re: And I

Aren't there already off-the-shelf proven robust platforms for handling millions of banking customers and billions of transactions? Don't they also handle corporate clients?

Install such a system – and do it once only. Give every citizen an individual account. Give every government department a corporate account. It will all just work. Plus, you get to leverage all the proven add-ons for accounting, interfacing to other systems, etc.

A common sense suggestion if ever I heard one, especially as gov.co.uk must own quite a few banks at this stage.

Sadly, as common sense is involved the government and other vested interests would never go for it.

Have an upvote anyway...

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Re: And I

Nope that idea is a complete non starter and would never ever work

Why...

Simple, the MPs would'nt be able to get kickbacks from the IT companies building the system, or government (ex)ministers find themselve cushy directorships with said companies

Alledgedly (the lawyers demanded I put that in)

Anyway without the kickbacks, how are you going to be able to claim for a cost overrun?

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Joke

Re: And I

"especially as gov.co.uk must own quite a few banks at this stage."

Great idea. We could hand the entire system over the the 80% gov. owned RBS.

Then, when Scotland goes independent....oops.

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I bet the only person to benefit*...

...will be (spins bottle) Capita.

Your bottle may vary, but probably not by much.

*benefit, geddit?

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Megaphone

Benefits are not a "handout"

I'm disappointed by El Reg's use of the lazy, sloppy and derogatory phrase "benefit handouts"

The over-repeated myth that living on benefits is some kind of lifestyle choice made by people who have never done a day's work is just that, a myth. The majority are claiming what they are entitled to, because they paid into the system while working or their wages are not enough to support a family.

Having already set up a division in the nations consciousness between the deserving and undeserving poor, i.e. strivers versus skivers, using a single label for a collection of benefits allows the government to portray all claimants as skivers and makes cutting support for the most vulnerable so much more palatable. Now this pre-emptive talk about fraud will give the government the cover it needs to make it even harder to for genuine claims to be made.

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Re: Benefits are not a "handout"

Regardless of that, there's a £120bn gap between what government raise in revenue and then choose to spend on whatever. As a result of the popular-at-Westminster idea that we can simply keep borrowing to fill the gap, we now spend around £50bn a year just on interest, and that figure continues to rise.

So unless you want to go the way of Ireland, Iceland, Greece and Cyprus the books have to balance, so you either raises taxes, or you cut public spending, which includes benefits.

Not that I'm defending the governments clueless and inept policies, but if you're looking for £120bn then there's no single acceptable measure.

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FAIL

Re: Benefits are not a "handout"

If your wages aren't enough to support your family, why did you have a family?

Benefits should not enable people to make or support life decisions precluded to people who work.

The very notion of the 'benefit trap' appears to be a challenge for you to comprehend.

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Unhappy

Re: Benefits are not a "handout"

"If your wages aren't enough to support your family, why did you have a family?"

If your wages were enough to support your family until you had to change jobs and/or take a cut in pay, what do you do? Hand the kids back?

"Benefits should not enable people to make or support life decisions precluded to people who work."

You're peddling that divisive propaganda myth that people either work or are on benefits, never a mix of both. But the truth is, the many, if not most benefits claimants also work. Exact figures are difficult to come by as it doesn't suit the government's agenda to give clear figures, but it has been reported(1)(2) and disputed(3) that in 2010, one in eight housing benefit claimants were unemployed and between January 2010 and December 2011, 93% of housing benefits claims were made by households with at least one employed adult(4).

Benefits are there to support people with the life decisions they made while they were in work. Otherwise, what is the alternative?

"The very notion of the 'benefit trap' appears to be a challenge for you to comprehend."

The very notion that people's circumstances might change appears to be a challenge for you to comprehend. Cutting benefits doesn't make housing, food or fuel any more affordable for someone on a low income. It doesn't magically create lots of jobs. It just pushes the already vulnerable into deeper poverty and turns a "benefit trap" into a homelessness trap - try getting a job with no fixed abode for your address.

(1) http://england.shelter.org.uk/news/previous_years/2010/june_2010/housing_benefit_warning

(2) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6735/2084179.pdf

(3) http://fullfact.org/factchecks/one_in_eight_housing_benefit_claimants_unemployed-27479

(4) http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/majority-of-new-housing-benefit-claimants-in-work/6521183.article

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Anonymous Coward

a better way...

...would be to train everyone who is out of work in project management, IT and implementation. They can then all be employed as IT workers implementing massive government IT projects aimed at reducing waste and saving money! A win all round; everyone has a job and no-one is claiming dole or benefits and the massive government IT projects would continue to rumble on, costing billions and wasting money ;)

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Re: a better way...

would be to train everyone who is out of work in project management

There are far too many project-managing oxygen thieves creating havoc as it stands.

Being unemployed is bad enough without having PRINCE2 in your future...

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Re: a better way...

No training needed, there are enough out of work project managers and other IT staff claiming benefits as it is without adding to the hundreds applying for every job going already. Some of these out of work IT staff were recent government employees who were made redundant as part of a cost cutting exercise by the very same government.

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Happy

I like the idea. Our new project managers could manage the existing ones, who would of course also be managing the new ones.

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