back to article Universal Credit could take 10 YEARS to finish, says Labour MP

The government's disastrous £700m Universal Credit programme could take up to 10 years to complete, Labour MP Stephen Timms informed El Reg on Thursday. "I've been reliably told by someone formerly working on the programme that it will take ten years to complete. Based on the evidence, I have no reason not to believe that time …

  1. Lionel Baden

    10 years ....

    And by that they mean 20

    and by complete they mean close and sell off

    Well at least friends family and school chums get good employment

    1. tmTM

      Re: 10 years ....

      Hello pot..........yes this is Kettle.

      I have much experience from my Identity Card scheme, may I offer you some advice???

    2. AceRimmer

      Re: 10 years ....

      "Well at least friends family and school chums get good employment"

      Unfortunately for our Conservative friends that employment will be peanuts compared to the cash cow that was the NHS National Programme for IT.

  2. codejunky Silver badge

    Ah

    A long term project. I can see why labour are looking to kill it.

    The idea of a universal credit system is great and I have yet to see a decent argument against it. However actually doing it does raise voices and concerns because our tax/welfare system is so insanely complicated that making a 'one system to rule them all' seems almost impossible. Especially when they struggle to manage the current system with the range of systems they have already.

    1. SolidSquid

      Re: Ah

      The idea is good, but the implementation has been so abysmal that they'd probably be better going back and just re-doing it from scratch, with the gradually staged roll outs to test it for suitablility which they should have had in the first place

    2. davidp231

      Re: Ah

      One system to rule them all.. one portal to find them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah

        One bastard to lead them there and in the darkness blind them

        (couldnt help it sorry)

        1. davidp231
          Pint

          Re: Ah

          It just had to be done...

    3. Sarah Balfour
      WTF?

      Re: Ah

      So you believe it to be a "good idea" to attempt to hoodwink the sick and disabled into believing they're getting the same as/more than they were under the separate benefits, then…?!

      Because that's the reality. Not only that, but we'd lose benefits such as fuel allowance, travel allowance, free telly licence, Motability, etc. (not that that matters to me as I don't have a telly).

      It's the worst idea any government has ever thought up regarding benefits; you think it'll make things easier for us…?! I can tell you for many of us it'll simply make things far more confusing, because many budget by knowing what's coming in from what benefit. If you believe that it simply means squaring everything together into one lump sum you're VERY sorely mistaken.

      Stop believing the effluence that's exuding from the Beeb's back orifice. Presumably you're a Tory voter. Have down-vote.

      Wait until you need to rely on disability benefits, maybe.you'll come to understand then… Or maybe not…

      1. Red Bren
        Unhappy

        Re: Ah

        The big advantage of Universal Credit, is that it removes all distinctions. You're either on benefits or your not. No grey areas, no deserving or undeserving claimants, just scroungers. And as no one likes scroungers, there will be no complaints when a Daily Mail serving politician proclaims some dog-whistle policy to cut benefits.

      2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: Ah

        @Sarah - Besides your patently flawed arguments, it's this that amused me most:

        "Stop believing the effluence that's exuding from the Beeb's back orifice. Presumably you're a Tory voter. Have down-vote."

        Amusing given that Auntie is more left wing than even Red Ed's Labour party.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah

        And my friends who do rely on disability benefits, who deserve those benefits and are on working parties in Westminster which discuss benefit reform and are instrumental in shaping the policies which those who are reliant on state support for their day to day lives would disagree with you.

        Oh, and one or two work with Ed and his band of clueless but well intentioned fools

        While it may be a complete clusterfuck of a project (hint, all government IT is, regardless of the flavour of government) the premise behind it is actually a sound one and could, if it's allowed to and can be made to work, be a huge improvement.

        (and if you can claim to understand disability benefit now you're either a genius or a liar)

      4. BongoJoe

        Re: Ah

        Sarah, I am much in the same boat as yourself (I believe that I have replied to one of your posts on a similar topic in the past). However, the overall concept of Universal Credit is a good one.

        Or rather, the concept as promised is good. The implementation is terrible as is a lot of the promises and various sleights of hand which is going on.

        In a fair and decent United Kingdom this would be implemented properly.

      5. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ah

        @ Sarah Balfour

        "So you believe it to be a "good idea" to attempt to hoodwink the sick and disabled into believing they're getting the same as/more than they were under the separate benefits, then…?!"

        Not sure what comment you are responding to but I dont see anyone making the claim you have written so I guess mine? We currently have a bad system of duplicates, obfuscation and hope that people dont claim all the benefits they can (only reason I can see for the complexity). What is the administrative cost of this complexity and would that not be better spent on welfare? A single system that actually worked would be awesome for all and free up more money for welfare.

        "Not only that, but we'd lose benefits such as fuel allowance, travel allowance, free telly licence, Motability, etc."

        Botches and hacks added to botches and hacks to create so much confusion that nobody knows what they are or not eligible for. Its great for a public sector wanting to add more admin staff but sucks for the population who need that money going on duplicate departments and confusion.

        "It's the worst idea any government has ever thought up regarding benefits; you think it'll make things easier for us"

        A single department, a single point of contact no matter which benefits you are actually on? A single place where you can get the answer without contacting different departments? Less waiting for left hand to talk to right? I think that should be easier.

        "Stop believing the effluence that's exuding from the Beeb's back orifice. Presumably you're a Tory voter. Have down-vote."

        I assume this is where you have accepted you lose the argument and suddenly give up thought and reason to- you must be a tory voter. Then I could trade insults and call you a labour voter? Or lib? Or UKIP? Even BNP if I want to really insult you. You are aware that this is a democracy and people can vote for any party? You do realise that lots of people vote for varying parties, the main concentration on labour or tory? Either way your stab in the dark missed but I have no hostility for tory or labour voters, they are people with their own beliefs and regardless of our opinions of each other I can respect anyone who votes whoever they think will do good for the country whoever that is. I cant respect someone who votes to 'keep the others out' and I cant respect an idiot who claims superiority on (wrongly) assumed political affiliation. But I wont bother to downvote you.

        Btw I said the universal credit system was a good idea. That doesnt mean I agree with the way it has been implemented. As I have always said, the laws need simplifying first to give the people some hope of understanding it never mind a computer.

  3. Richard Jones 1
    WTF?

    Government Scheme Successes

    Of course the present non system is such a success that we all bow down to worship its grand performance.

    Then there was that NHS IT scheme that had to be canned after wasting billions.

    Or the ID cards.

    Or

    ....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Roll eyes.

    Labour slag of Conservative ideas.

    Conservatives slag of labour ideas.

    One day, they will actually try and work together for the people that votes for them, but no doubt Beelzebub will be ice skating before then.

    Slag off the EU parliament as much as you want,but at least they pretend to try and work together.

    1. dogged

      Re: Roll eyes.

      They might as well since they don't have any actual power.

    2. Jaybus

      Re: Roll eyes.

      Nonsense! They are in total agreement every time they vote themselves additional salary and/or benefits.

    3. swampdog
      WTF?

      Re: Roll eyes.

      "

      Labour slag of Conservative ideas.

      Conservatives slag of labour ideas.

      One day, they will actually try and work together for the people that votes for them, but no doubt Beelzebub will be ice skating before then.

      Slag off the EU parliament as much as you want,but at least they pretend to try and work together.

      "

      OFF it's fucking "off" for fuck's sake. I've never been a pedant before but it was your use of "Slag off" which has me wondering if you're just trying to wind me up.

      Labour "slag of"..

      Tory "slag of"..

      "slag of EU"..

      ?which is it?

      I won't up or down vote you. I just want to know!

  5. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Trackless waste

    “Our current plan is on track"

    As was the previous plan, until it wasn't.

    1. Thomas 4

      Re: Trackless waste

      "Our current plan is on track"

      A South West Trains track that comes to a lurching halt at the first sign of a problem and it'll cost you a goddam fortune.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News at 10 - Disgruntled employee leaves and anonymously slates former employer...

    Not saying that UC is anything like successful, but a single source that used to work on it isn't always the most reliable, and might not even have had access to the data necessary to make such a claim, the source could even be a cleaner!

  7. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    "“Our current plan is on track and we are making good progress."

    So, we are to expect an announcement next year that it's is a pile of poo, a 'team of consultants' brought in to assess the situation and - following a few hundred grand;s worth of 'consulting' - it will be scrapped, penalties paid off and another system started up.

    It seems to be the way things work -- no system, yet, seems to have escaped the impact of 'new management has to make an impression and unfeaseable tweaks demanded on a whim'.

    Universally buggered!

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      And that's after the excessively employed civil servant drones have made a complete hash of it in the first place, which is why a senior servant or politician thinks a consultancy will fix the problem.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iSoft are twiddling their thumbs, could they help out ?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the headline should be

    "Opposition party tries to make the current government's project look bad in the run-up to a general election"?

    Notes to editors:

    1) Which party holds which role is irrelevant;

    2) It doesn't matter if the project is, in principle, good or bad;

    3) It would make a lot more sense if the parties worked together;

    4) Try to only publish "political messages" if they mention what they would do rather what they think the other lot shouldn't have done.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Surely the headline should be

      Quote

      3) It would make a lot more sense if the parties worked together;

      you mean like a coalition?

      Oh wait...

  10. David Pollard

    The Labour party has promised to conduct a review

    If anyone in the party organisation happens to read El Reg, here's a tip. It would be a real vote winner to promise to review the NHS care.data programme with a view to scrapping it.

  11. Kay_terra

    The scrapped system was being implemented "at pace" to get it in place before the general election.

    Having written off £300m to Accenture, IBM and HPES, GDS take over development. 6 months later GDS run a mile ... DWP replan to a schedule that would have been a realistic place to start from 5 years ago.

    It's a good idea, but it is time for people to stop underestimating the complexity when flying in to 'save UC' ... I'm currently watching from the sidelines waiting for the next Director to skip on to something easier, retire or resign ... it's a poison chalice.

  12. Magnus_Pym

    IT Angle?

    Universal Credit is a policy on benefit payments - There is an IT system to support benefit payments.

    I really can't see form what the politicians have said why the two are tied so closely together. The Universal Credit policy could be implemented by pushing bits of paper around and a new IT system could be implemented to support any benefits system yet somehow the IT part is the problem ...

    ... unless the Universal Credit policy is so complex and unwieldy that only a super computer backed implementation can work it out within the lifetime of the claimant. Now that could be the reason for the delay.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: IT Angle?

      "only a super computer backed implementation can work it out"

      The problem is more likely to be that in a social welfare system, especially one that involves disadvantaged people, sometimes an element of discretion is appropriate. This can be difficult to codify.

    2. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: IT Angle?

      Says the man who has no clue as to the diversity of systems and benefits controlled by said systems.

      It's not that UC is so complex, it's that the current range of benefits and systems are and they don't 'talk' to each other in any kind of sane way, the nasty old legacy systems are tied together using people and paperwork.

      Simplifying that sort of rats nest is not an easy job. Simplifying and implementing a replacement on the scale of the UK benefits system is an horrific job.

      1. Magnus_Pym

        Re: IT Angle?

        "It's not that UC is so complex, it's that the current range of benefits and systems are and they don't 'talk' to each other in any kind of sane way, the nasty old legacy systems are tied together using people and paperwork."

        I think that backs up what I'm saying doesn't it: The main IT project is not UC. The current hotch-potch of weird and wonderful legacy bollocks is were the project fails and that is independent of UC or whatever crap was tacked on top of trying to redevelop Benefits IT into something coherent.

        The big problem is that the minister wants a major project completed during his/her term in office so they can claim credit for the sucess however in doing so they guarantee that they preside over another failure.

  13. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Picture the scene

    Civil servant tables the Minister's latest requested modifications

    Contractor {sharp intake of breath} "That'll be an extra mate".

    Repeat until Doomsday.

  14. IHateWearingATie

    Stephen Timms

    In the words of a former colleague who worked for him:

    "One of the few genuinely decent human beings in parliament".

    I'd like to believe that he's raising this due to be being a shambles, rather than as a party hack scoring points.

  15. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    "Our current plan is on track"

    Their current plan, presumably, being that of funneling as much public money into their own pockets as possible until they get voted out and someone else gets a turn.

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