back to article Car-crash IT: HUGE write-off for Universal Credit - PAC

Just £34m of IT investment will be re-usable from more than £600m spent on the Universal Credit car-crash IT programme "if" a digital version of the system ever arrives, a Public Accounts Committee hearing has indicated. "The truth is of what we've invested in live, only £34m will go over to digital," said PAC chair Margaret …

  1. Trygve

    So they've saved £2 billion by putting 18,000 people on the system?

    Does the saving come from a reduction in admin costs of £111K per person, or from just not paying the rest of the two million people who were meant to be on the system?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: So they've saved £2 billion by putting 18,000 people on the system?

      Or those 18,000 people were being over-paid £111K per person in benefits.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: So they've saved £2 billion by putting 18,000 people on the system?

        They've saved nothing. That's notional future savings. The real sunk costs have already swallowed more than that.

        In a nutshell, we've blown the budget on a busted system, but look at all this lovely pie in the sky.

        At what point will Ian Duncan Smith be publicly hung, drawn and quartered for his disastrous mismanagement?

  2. ukgnome

    Whilst I shouldn't speak for all commentards I do believe all of us saw this coming.

    1. dwrjones87

      A blind person with a blind guide dog could've seen this coming

      1. Kane Silver badge

        A dead, blind person with a dead guide dog could have seen this coming

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A dead, decomposed blind person with a dead, decomposed guide dog could have seen this coming.

          1. PNGuinn
            Flame

            Universal discredit?

            A dead, decomposed blind person with a dead, decomposed guide dog could have seen this coming.

            But IDS plays a mean pinball.

          2. Marcus Aurelius
            Joke

            Dead, decomposed, blind....

            Stop talking about David Blunkett in this way

            1. PNGuinn
              Go

              Re: Dead, decomposed, blind....

              Why?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A blind person with a blind guide dog could've seen this coming

        David Blunkett?

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Flame

    Pretty good for public sector IT

    Better than they managed in the NHS

    1. kmac499

      Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

      Yet another example of ideology led policy, cheered on by a bunch of 'consultants' (interesting anagram opportunity).

      My constructive alternative; If you can't simplify the benefits, then at least come up with a simple website that allows anyone to tap in their numbers and see what, if anything, they are entitled to.

      1. IHateWearingATie

        Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

        Actually, UC as a concept had been hanging around DWP like a bad smell for years. IDS is the one who said "Yes" when every other minister before him had said "No".

        As I understand consultants only got involved once the decision had been made and they were asked to make it happen.

      2. Red Bren
        Windows

        Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

        "a simple website that allows anyone to tap in their numbers and see what, if anything, they are entitled to."

        And send the welfare bill through the roof? The system is designed to make it as difficult as possible to claim what you're entitled to. The last thing the government wants is to give more money to poor people who were previously denied benefits because of some minor error they made on a 156 page application form supplying information the state already has.

        If you really want to simplify the benefits system, just give everyone a minimum income of £100 a week. No application form, no means testing, just register on the electoral roll and with HMRC as a UK tax payer. The savings on beauracracy, premises,fraud investigations, appeals, etc would probably cover it. And if you want more, get a job.

        1. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

          Careful with that common sense - are you trying to bankrupt the IT industry?

        2. Buzzword

          Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

          No, you can't just give everyone £100 a week.

          Different people are entitled to different benefits. A young single unemployed male living with his parents gets the basic Job Seekers' Allowance; a partially-disabled widow working part-time and living with her sister who also cares for her & three kids will get a very different set of benefits.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

            No kidding....

            But you seem to think that Joe Single getting 100 and Jane Withkids-Sister getting (as a household) 500 wouldn't work? Why not? Admittedly, having all of the ex-consultants and ex-government workers receiving it as well would increase the cost, but look at what would be saved.

            In fact, can someone find out how far that 600million would have gone as benefits, compared to how far it went in salaries?

            1. Buzzword

              Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

              Jane is on a zero-hours contract. Some weeks she works a full 40 hours a week; other weeks she works hardly any hours. Please write a computer system that adjusts her benefits every week to top up what she earns. Delays in payment are not allowed - she's struggling to get by as it is, so you can't leave her without money (whether wages or benefits) in any given week. If successful, send the £2bn invoice to Her Majesty's government.

              1. Jonny5

                Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

                http://basicincome.org.uk/

                1. Red Bren

                  Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

                  Thanks for the link

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pretty good @ Buzzword

            "Different people are entitled to different benefits. A young single unemployed male living with his parents gets the basic Job Seekers' Allowance; a partially-disabled widow working part-time and living with her sister who also cares for her & three kids will get a very different set of benefits."

            Entitled? Entitled by what? Some god-given right, or law of physics?

            We have a hugely expensive, dysfunctional, chronically unfair welfare system that disincentivises work for some, costs a fortune to administer, pays (eg) child benefit to f***ers living all across Eastern Europe, yet denies it to a colleague of mine who's a single parent with four kids. Another colleague who is disabled but able to work qualifies for motability - yet she's happily paid for her own car all her life, and now she's trading up to a better car because she's getting hundreds of quid a month extra that she's "entitled" to, but open admits she doesn't need. My wife takes home less working full time as a community nurse than some of the drug-dealing, benefit scrounging vermin she has to care for.

            The whole welfare system is broken, and Red Bren's suggestion is an excellent one. Does away with separate pensions and benefits administration as well, does away with the unjust and unfair pretend "contributions" model of NI.

            1. Snorlax Silver badge

              Re: Pretty good @ Buzzword

              "pays (eg) child benefit to f***ers living all across Eastern Europe, yet denies it to a colleague of mine who's a single parent with four kids. "

              The first part of that statement's rubbish, and has nothing to do with the government pissing money away on a system that doesn't work.

              The second part? If you've got the kids, you're entitled to the child benefit. What reason was she given for not being entitled to the payment?

              1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

                Re: Pretty good @ Buzzword

                > If you've got the kids, you're entitled to the child benefit.

                Unless you're a higher-rate tax payer, IIRC.

            2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Pretty good @AC re Entitled?

              You would have to make it £100 per person in the household, including the children, if you wanted to make a flat-rate minimum guarantee.

              And that would have it's own problems as people realised that the more kids they had, the more money they would receive.

              If you were to make the benefits system back to one where need was not taken into account, then you would have to be prepared to return to the days of the flop house, workhouses and foundling orphanages, people living on the streets and escalating crime and prostitution as people did whatever was necessary to survive.

              The whole point of benefits where they are needed is to provide a way of living (note I do not say that it should be particularly comfortable) for whole family units, not just individuals. And benefits where needed requires systems to assess the need.

              It was a real eye opener when the historical TV programme "Turn Back Time" reminded me that in the first half of the 20th Century in England, people were forced to sell any possessions of value before they would be given any state support if they could not support themselves.

              1. Frankee Llonnygog

                Re: Pretty good @AC re Entitled?

                It's true that, under the Basic Income system, people might raise a few bastards to gain some hundreds more quid in welfare income. Compare that to now, where you assemble several thousand bastards, call the conglomeration a consultancy, then syphon off hundreds of millions in welfare income.

          3. John G Imrie

            @Buzzword

            Why?

        3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

          "If you really want to simplify the benefits system, just give everyone a minimum income of £100 a week."

          The basic state pension is currently £113.10/week. So pensioners are straight away losing £681.2 per year.

          Personal Independence payments can go up to £138.05 a week.

          The only people who are better off are those on JSA or Tax Credits. But even they may get Housing Benefit of up to £250/week, council tax benefit and no doubt other top ups.

          I'm in favour of a minimum income/basic income/civil income. But if it's set at a single flat rate it would disadvantage a lot of people or cost a helluva lot more than we're paying now.

      3. TheOldGuy

        'consultants' (interesting anagram opportunity).

        Nice. Have an upvote.

      4. Adolph Clickbait

        Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

        just remove 'onslta'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pretty good for public sector IT

      Is this how we measure the success of GOV IT projects now, who can f*ck up in less spectacular style?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guys, it's all ok

    The six hundred million came from the magic money tree that dispenses magic money for Cabinet Ministers' vanity projects. It as no trace of any impact whatsoever on our ability to pay back the vaguely defined deficit (which may or may not be deliberately confused with the vaguely national debt), or balance the vaguely defined books.

    1. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Guys, it's all ok

      With only £34m 'reusable' presuming hardware/cloud services - makes you wonder where the rest has gone ? At say £500m missing, divided by a cheeky average chargeable day rate of £1,000/day, that's still 500,000 man days of effort - which seems excessive - even for a project on this scale. If you continue this with 500 people working on the project, that's 1,000 days of effort each, or a rough 3 years full time on this - with little/nothing to show for it. Smells of the NHS NPfIt all over again.

      Yes the benefits and tax system is broken, but unsure if IDC was ideologically brave or foolhardy to give it a go.

  5. Crisp Silver badge

    I was watching Yes Minister last night

    Glad to see that it hasn't dated in the slightest.

    1. oddie

      Re: I was watching Yes Minister last night

      I watch it ever so often as well.. last week in fact :)

      however, what is funny on film isn't necessarily funny in real life.. I just calculated how many of my tax-years they have wasted... needless to say I would be long dead before the 1st % was paid...

      I wonder how high we will need to make the gallows for this one?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: I was watching Yes Minister last night

        I wonder how high we will need to make the gallows for this one?

        A seven-foot drop is enough to snap the neck of an adult human; fourteen feet or more often ends in decapitation. Your choice.

        1. John G Imrie

          A seven-foot drop is enough to snap the neck of an adult human

          So about five foot then. Let the buggers choke.

          1. PNGuinn

            Re: A seven-foot drop is enough to snap the neck of an adult human

            The Merkin method I believe.. Which is why when a US soldier was sentanced to death by the US military during the last war in the UK Pierpoint got the job.

        2. PNGuinn

          Re: I was watching Yes Minister last night

          The official Home Office table of drops is in Pierpoint's memoirs I believe. But has to be adjusted by the hangman according to the build of the condemned man.

    2. Toothpick

      Re: I was watching Yes Minister last night

      If any commentard has not seen this (and Yes Prime Minister) I strongly suggest you do. If you are looking to buy it, it may be 'mis-filed' in the documentary section.

  6. El_Fev

    Hold on a second

    How is it £600 Million?, that's what computer weekly insiders said it would cost if they continued on the same path would be wasted. the max they said would be spent was £140 Million , with 40 Millions being lost. I think Margaret Hodge is playing politics again.

    I think there's a lot of people who don't like IDS talking a lot of crap. And quite frankly compared to the amount that was pissed away on the failed NHS system, this is actually a success,,, which is sad beyond words :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hold on a second

      You're not a project manager by any chance?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hold on a second

      The basics of the NHS system is fine.

      You'd be surprised to learn that before that system was commissioned there was no such thing as NHS email addresses.

      Where it failed was with some specific applications that were going to sit on the backbone (SPINE). They were put out to tender and probably couldn't be delivered for that cost.

      Public sector managers are very poor at understanding problems. Having worked with public and private departments it becomes quite apparent that the private ones tend to know what they're doing and know that they can't change their minds later.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hold on a second

        "Public sector managers are very poor at understanding problems."

        This has a lot to do with the difficulty involved in firing them. They get there via tenure, not training.

        1. Red Bren
          Unhappy

          Re: Hold on a second

          I thought the problem with public sector management was quite the opposite. All the experienced staff get made redundant and are promptly hired by the private sector consultants, who then run rings around their former employer when bidding for the outsourced work.

  7. Naughtyhorse

    Hang on, there is one upside...

    'one dole to rule them all' made me laugh every time I saw it.

    thanx el reg

  8. Frankee Llonnygog

    Car crash?

    Rather understated. Once you get into hundreds of £millions, surely it's a bit bigger than a car crash?

    This is more like running the Toyota assembly line directly into a rail-gun and targeting the output from Nissan dropping onto a giant trampoline.

    Only less useful...

  9. The last doughnut
    Windows

    Hah haw hoe

    Sometimes its just nice to see someone else's project going up the Swanny for a change.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Of course it's not a shambles.

    Not by DWP standards, it isn't

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: Of course it's not a shambles.

      I'm fairly sure you can't just call something a "shambles" in politics now. It needs a snappy descriptor such as "Omnishambles", "Quasishambles", "Hemidemisemishables" or "Babyshambles" or such.

      So I guess he's right.

      1. RichUK

        Re: Of course it's not a shambles.

        Jeroboashambles = shambles * 4

        Rehoboshambles = shambles * 6

        Methuselahshambles = shambles * 8

        Salmanazarshambles (reserved for NHS f*ckups) = shambles * 12

        Balthazarshambles = shambles * 16

        Nebuchadnezzarshambles = shambles * 20

        Solomonshambles (rarely seen) = shambles * 24

        Sovereignshambles (reserved for monarchy-related f*ck-ups not parliamentary ones) = shambles * 34

        Primatshambles (reserved for shambles originating directly from the PM) = shambles * 36

        Melchizedekashambles (reserved for f*ckup resulting in end of civilisation as we know it) = shambles * 40

  11. Misky
    Thumb Down

    Job?

    So where do I go to get a job, collect £600,000,000, to provide a half-baked database, then get away with it by making a monkey in a suit say "it'll save BILLLIONS"?

    It's like legalized fraud on and epic scale!

  12. nsld

    is this worse

    Than the gang fuck that was CSA 1 and 2?

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