"Universal Credit IT may go downhill soon"
"Making a success of Universal Credit"
Definitely a Sir Humphrey job.
The IT underpinning Blighty's troubled Universal Credit programme could soon begin to creak as the programme takes on more complex claimant cases, a think tank report from the left-wing Resolution Foundation has found. The report, Making a success of Universal Credit, noted that from today, Universal Credit looks very …
From what I understand from someone “with knowledge” of the thing, there are two main problems:
- The IT
- The Rules
Ignoring the IT for a moment, the whole point of UC involves a complete rewrite of the DWPs rulebook, developed over many years from the end of the Second World War. Currently, the DWP's Decision Makers' Guide (yes, you can read it online) runs to 14 volumes and covers everything. For example, labour market questions for Job Seekers Allowance are 228 pages long and the definition of “membership of the family” is 28 pages. So, if you have a member of a polygamous marriage trying to claim Income Support, where the other members of the marriage are all in prison, except for one “technical lifer” who has been transferred to an NHS hospital, you can process the claim (page 24217 for those wondering).
UC rips all this up and writes its own, entirely separate Advice for decision making document. This struggles to cover someone with a mortgage, never mind a truly complex case. It's also constantly in flux, with modification memos being chucked out monthly. At the moment there are 41 memos that decision makers have to know that modify the official procedure, that have yet to be included in the “Advice for decision making” document, never mind be included in the software!
tl;dr: Never underestimate the complexity of people's circumstances.
"tl;dr Never underestimate the complexity of people's circumstances."
This is the key.
I'm retired from the advice sector now but the generalist level bible we had to use runs to 1740 pages and is updated annually. http://www.shop.cpag.org.uk/welfare-benefits-and-tax-credits-handbook-201617
Specialist level benefits advice is very complicated. I specialised in debt and housing so required a good working knowledge of the benefits sytem.
A mate of mine was a senior IT manager at the DWP in Longbenton prior to his retirement. He told me that no one knows all of the details of the various systems that have accumulated over the years some of which stretch back to the birth of IT in the early sixties and are still in use. The DWP was one of the very first users of large scale IT.
We knew that UC in the hands of the Tories was only ever about cutting welfare spending as much as politically possible, with the ultimate end game being the complete dismantling of the welfare state. UC provides the cover to do so.
Because the underlying systems - a hotchpotch of various benefit and taxation schemes and systems was - charitably - not fit for purpose.
The whole sorry saga is reminiscent of the Blackadder trope of fixing wheels to a tomato. "Time consuming and utterly pointless".
The right approach would be to (a) rationalise tax and benefits and (b) then get a system to automate it.
The only way (and you read it here first) UC will be killed (no, not a stake through the heart) is when the government (any one) has a "review" and discovers that "due to other changes, efficiencies, better ways of working, etc etc" there is no longer a need for universal credit as "it can be delivered in other ways" before being quietly led down a Whitehall alley and given a fare-thee-well bullet through back of the head. (NOTE. This approach also guarantees gongs for all involved).
If you can't design a multi-million pound computer system to cope with the intricacies of the interaction between various benefits, how the hell do you expect anyone else to be able to understand it, and surely that's cause enough to fight for a simpler system that you CAN implement for a mere few billion pounds or less?
What they should have done was move all the benefits under the DWP before they tried to consolidate but then who am I to state common sense? Maybe the more cleverer way was how they are doing it by moving council tax and housing benefit from councils and tax credits between departments without a full understanding of the systems involved first.
I'm making assumptions with the above based on the fact that they haven't only moved whole area's but specific types of claimant.
Agreed, universal basic income would allow us to bin the costly balls-up that is Universal Credit. The Torres see it as money for nothing, for the common man, so it will never be a goer under them, instead pissing money up the wall on UC.
Irritable Duncan Syndrome, whilst telling people how lucky they should feel getting benefits, was shoving £57 breakfasts down his neck that we the tax-payer are paying for.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019