back to article Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

The UK government's embattled Universal Credit programme hasn't delivered value for money and has caused some claimants hardship but is now so embedded there is no alternative but to plough on, the National Audit Office has said. In a damning report published today, the spending watchdog questioned whether the disastrous …

  1. illuminatus

    The government position:

    Boo hoo. We're doing it anyway, so fuck you and suck it up, bitches.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The government position:

      That is basically what was said on QT last night.

      Oh, and the NAO was wrong.

      WTF has happened to government in the UK?

      1. monty75 Silver badge

        Re: The government position:

        WTF has happened to government in the UK?

        We had a referendum and decided to let the Daily Mail run the country instead.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: The government position:

        WTF has happened to government in the UK?

        Same as is happening everywhere. It's being run by people who see it it as a business, not a service. Career politicians who put their own interests ahead of those who voted for them, and assume that normal rules & laws don't apply to them.

        Then again, we voted for them.

        1. IsJustabloke Silver badge

          Re: The government position:

          "Then again, we voted for them."

          It doesn't matter who we vote for, they're all mendacious clueless fuckwits being led around by the nose by some faceless / unaccountable Whitehall mandarin that never changes except when they accept their knighthood and fat final salary gold plated pension and pass the baton onto the next faceless / unaccountable mandarin.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The government position:

            faceless / unaccountable Whitehall mandarin


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: s/Whitehall/Whitehall,Brussels,Washington,Berlin,Paris,etc./

              everybody talk about

              Pop Music!

          2. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: The government position:

            "Then again, we voted for them."

            <Raises hand>

            Er... no... not all of us. And before you ask, no I didn't vote for "the other guy" either.

            Sorry, when your only option is between two idiots that will scam every penny out of their position while being inept at performing their duties, then there's no point voting at all. "Hopefully this guy is slightly less of a scumbag" isn't democracy.

            And if you were to open the polls to allow yourself to vote for anyone, it would be a very different world. Even a "none-of-the-above" option that if it wins means all current candidates are ineligible for the position and we have to keep voting for new people until the position is filled would quickly weed out all of the big-name politicians who are prisons minister one minute and agricultural minister the next, and have registered interests all over the shop.

            (P.S. I'm of the opinion that register of interests is a great idea. But absolutely bog-useless unless it means you're actually required to choose between "can be in a related position", "can hold an interest which they would be required to register to hold that position". i.e. you can be in charge of government IT, or you can have shares in the companies chosen to run the IT, but not both. I would also argue that if you're in charge of something like a major government project, you should not have TIME to have any registered interests which involve you sitting on other boards, companies, etc.).

            While you're operating purely on a two party system, you will constantly be presented with two unsuitable and unscrupulous candidates from the HUNDREDS of such available on each side, and nothing will ever change (if one goes down, the next just pops up with the same ideas). They are literally both as bad as each other, and have been for centuries. Until you break away from that, people like myself will treat all politicians, and political discussions, with equal contempt. Because you all sound the same. You all say the same. The "other guys" are always the ones doing wrong. And nothing changes when it switches over.

            You want to solve the problems? Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister, and make it illegal for them to personally benefit in any way from being in such a position beyond their (reasonable) salary.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The government position:

              Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister, and make it illegal for them to personally benefit

              Sounds good, but that IT guy would have a manager, who would have a manager, and somewhere up that hierarchy would be a minister and/or a politician.

            2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              Re: The government position:

              Nope. Voting is, and always will be choosing the least worst option. Sometimes least worst is still choosing between death between frying pan or fire.

              It is democracy, you just don't like it.

              There are a number of large and obvious problems that are not easy to solve :

              1) The electorate voted for the status quo two referendums ago. They wanted strong parties, and that's what they got.

              2) The electorate also do not like being told the truth. Truths include 'someone has to pay for it' and 'due to globalisation, history, population, and improved healthcare you will pay more, and get less'

              2a) The refusal to accept 'someone has to pay for it' leads to reduced funding on welfare and healthcare

              3) Large corporate interests, and the inability to crack down on them makes this worse

              4) It's not quite as easy to shit all over other countries in order to enjoy a high standard of living as it used to be

              5) Most competent people won't bother going into politics.

              6) The electorate largely don't care about politics, which is a pity, as it's extremely clear that if enough people care about an issue it makes a definite difference to the larger parties' policiies.

              7) An increasing cult of personality

              If the job is thankless, difficult, and not that well paid why bother doing it?

            3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: The government position:

              You want to solve the problems? Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister

              IT guys have proved utterly incapable of delivering this project. Why on earth should they be able to manage it as well?

            4. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: The government position:

              "Sorry, when your only option is between two idiots that will scam every penny out of their position while being inept at performing their duties, then there's no point voting at all."

              It may surprise you to know that politicians know who voted and who didn't.

              If you don't bother voting, they're not going to take any notice of your views. It doesn't matter if you spoil your ballot of vote for the monster raving loony party (which is a vote of no confidence in anyone) because they don't know _who_ you voted for, but the fact that you're motivated enough to go to the polling station means they pay attention.

              The thought that scares politicians the most is that of 18-35yos collectively pulling their thumbs out of their arses and voting. Likewise all the habitual non-voters. (or put another way, your not voting is effectively two votes for the extremists)

        2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: The government position:


          Well, if you think you can do better, why not give it a go? Sometimes the non-establishment candidate gets in, e.g. President Trump.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The government position:

            Because I'm not in Russia and I haven't got the servers.

          2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: The government position:

            @Primus Secundus Tertius

            There is, of course merit to what you say because in general it seems that an MP who has had experience of actual life are pretty good and trying their hardest to get the right things done but they're rarely permitted to inner sanctum of party politics, you'll never find a free thinker on the front benches, they're considered far too dangerous. They also seem to be in short supply

          3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: The government position:


            Well, if you think you can do better, why not give it a go?

            And of course that's the problem. Maybe I could do better, but to be completely honest it is a job that I would hate so much that I could never give it the effort it needs.

            Most of the time I enjoy going to work, but the thought of having to get up in the morning and do that as a job, plus dealing with politicians on a daily basis, gives me nightmares. I'd probably go BOFH and end up in jail.

            One can only hope that somewhere out there is someone both competent and willing, so we don't have to choose one or the other...

          4. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: The government position:

            Well, if you think you can do better, why not give it a go? Sometimes the non-establishment candidate gets in, e.g. President Trump.

            So, non-establishment, maybe. But I don't doubt the real architects know how to manipulate him, judicious flattery, letting him get his way on some unimportant points, trimming the agenda temporarily here and there.

            Trump is in it for Trump the business, at the end of his term, I'd count the U.S. lucky if there's just no lasting damage - it's more than the U.K. is looking at...

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The government position:

            Principles for Successful Systems Engineering

            This paper summarizes several iterations in developing a compact set of four key principles for successful systems engineering, which are 1) Stakeholder Value-Based System Definition and Evolution 2) Incremental Commitment and Accountability 3) Concurrent Multidiscipline System Definition and Development, and 4) Evidence-Based and Risk-based Decisionmaking. It provides a rationale for the principles, including short example case studies of failed projects that did not apply the principles, and of successful projects that did. It will compare the principles with other sets of principles such as the Lean Systems Engineering and the Hitchins set of principles for successful systems and systems engineering.

            Yes it's hard, but Agile-Only Hail Marys as replacement activity ain't gonna work.

        3. defiler Silver badge

          Re: The government position:

          Then again, we voted for them.

          Well, you wouldn't want the wrong lizard to get in, would you?

        4. annodomini2 Bronze badge

          Re: The government position:

          Then again, we voted for them.

          The positive of Democracy is everyone gets a vote, the negative is that is also the problem.

      3. Gordan

        Re: The government position:

        "WTF has happened to government in the UK?"

        It seems that we are all getting dumber since the '70s:

    2. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: The government position:

      So many WTFs

      - They're running 2 systems in parallel (good practice) but can't switch back to the old system?

      - Using Agile as an excuse for not setting timescales for delivery of User Stories?

      - Exceeding the expected cost savings, yet still continuing?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The government position:

      > The Department for Work and Pensions took an agile approach, meaning it could adjust its plans

      Nothing spells "unmitigated disaster" for a project quite has hard as taking an "agile approach". For a start it means that the project owner has no clue what they actually want to deliver.

      1. fitzpat

        Re: The government position:

        Why would a Project Manager be deciding what gets delivered? They have no place in an Agile delivery organisation. Only the Product Owner can make that call.

        Project Managers are only sprinkled in (or in the case of DWP/HMRC/etc, doled in with ladles) to give the illusion of waterfall control when in actuality they're just reporting monkeys.

        ........ yet again Agile as a software methodology being confused/conflated with public sector political ineptitude.

      2. tony2heads

        Re: The government position:

        DWP and 'agile' do not even belong in the same universe.

        DWP belongs with slow, cumbersome, rules-based, box-ticking, legacy.

        Agile belongs with new, experimental, startup.

        It's like running a bus with a formula-1 engine.

    4. LeeE Silver badge

      Re: The government position:

      The degree of incompetence demonstrated by the U.K. Govt. in its management of the U.C. project is astounding. It's a bizarre aspect of reality that those same people consider themselves capable of managing the country.

      1. Stu Mac

        Re: The government position:

        and people think they could run the rail systems. Hilarious!!

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: The government position:

          Oddly enough, they already do run the rail systems. After a fashion.

          The 'raiI minister' who cut all the high-speed commuter services from my local (thameslink) line, but fucked up and didn't provide even approximate replacement services has had another go. And fucked it up some more.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: The government position:

        The degree of incompetence demonstrated by the U.K. Govt. in its management of the U.C. project is astounding. It's a bizarre aspect of reality that those same people consider themselves capable of managing the country.

        What about the degree of incompetence demonstrated by the IT professionals (sic) who are being paid by the barrowload to implement the project?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward IT

    Another blistering success. Huzzah!

    (I was particularly impressed by the way the system couldn't cope with months that had 5 pay days in. Because everyone is paid monthly now. Right? Right.)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: IT

      And if you've got two jobs that'll be up to 10 paydays.

      Do they know the people they're supposed to be helping. Who signed off this bollocks?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: IT

        "Do they know the people they're supposed to be helping?"

        Of course they do, it's those poor, downtrodden rich people.

        Did you know that (on the rare occasion they pay some tax), some of that money is just given to poor people? And it's not like these poor people have even bothered to be born to a well-off family, or be not-disabled. If people can't be bothered to help themselves, why should the government help them?

        Sarcasm aside, the 'hostile environment' isn't just aimed at immigrants, it's designed to make life as uncomfortable as possible for people on benefits as well.

    2. Oliver Mayes

      Re: IT

      And apparently if your pay goes into your account a day before the system is expecting it, it just assumes that you're being paid twice this month and adjusts your benefits accordingly.

      1. colinb

        Re: IT

        There are too many WTF's per square inch in this this project for my brain to handle.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. DJO Silver badge

    Business as usual

    Tory thinking:

    Spend 2bn to save 100m by stripping benefit from the poorest citizens - Just fine & dandy.

    Spend anything to stop tax evasion by the rich - No can't do that, think of the children.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Business as usual

      But the rich write the newspapers and the drones read them.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Business as usual

        No, the rich own the newspapers and that's not the same thing. If you think journalists are rich, you've never met one.

  4. Vanir

    Agile again?

    "The Department for Work and Pensions took an agile approach, meaning it could adjust its plans – but the NAO said incorporating such changes meant it had to delay or slow down the rollout.

    The project is now years behind schedule, ..."

    Agile means 'the ability to adjust plans'?

    So before the DWP took an 'agile approach' the DWP did not have the ability to adjust plans?

    Begs the question: (does it have the ability to create plans && the ability to execute any plan).

    Lazy evaluation may be a problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agile again?

      I've got an old Universal Credit project plan lying around in my files somewhere where the "sprints" are all laid out as two week blocks on a gantt chart with the intended features they were supposed to deliver laid over the top of that spanning two years into the future.

      DWP are about as agile as I am, and I'm the kind of person who looks on exercise as a perversion.

      "Agile" in the public sector has nothing to do with the delivery methodology level, it just means they're never going to put forward a full business case so that no one ever notices they've got no fucking idea what they're doing. Instead they'll just go back to cabinet office every two or three months to get incremental funding, relying on their political clout to get the cash through despite complete lack of any of the intended features actually being delivered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agile again?

        Same in the financial sector too, and retail.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agile again?

      @ Vanir:

      > So before the DWP took an 'agile approach' the DWP did not have the ability to adjust plans?

      I suspect, it means that both before and after, and almost certainly long into the future, the DWP doesn't even have a plan of any sort, so there's nothing to adjust.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason they won't cancel it is because at the end of the day Universal Credit pays claimants less than the current system due to the cap, so it matters not the cost because it will eventually pay for itself while pushing more people to food banks. It only encourages work because the only other option is severe poverty regardless of the situation.

    1. Jimmy2Cows

      Seems like the real reasoning behind UC was never to improve things for claimants, nor to save on admin costs.

      No siree, its real aim was to get as many claimants off benefits as possible, by making claiming so painful and unreliable that only the most desperate bother to claim. Who cares if the plebs get screwed over, fall into expensive debt, lose their disability benefits, motability, even their homes, spiral into depression, etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's the one, it's too unpalatable to completely kill the welfare system so it's easier to leave people 8 months without money so they are forced to take low paid self employed unreliable jobs just to survive. That's why we have such low employment. You could argue that's a good thing but then how to do you better yourself when all your time is taken by the job? You can't go to college because you can't afford it and besides you don't have the time because you are now working two jobs because the first one doesn't pay enough to cover your rent and bills, is this the society we want? People unable to improve their lives because of the situation the government puts them in.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        "its real aim was to get as many claimants off benefits as possible"

        Well, with tens of thousands of people* dying as a result, I'd say they've achieved their aim.

        * 45,000 between 2011 and 2014. Not a typo.

        (Source, BMJ)

        1. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

          Historical or hysterical? you tell me!

          Good old fashioned politicians studied History as part of their education, and History used to include the the French Revolution, with the aim if suggesting what could go wrong if you oppress the poor too much.

          For those who did not study history: the outcome looks a lot like ISIS, Boko Haram, etc: mass killing sprees with not much logic behind them, mostly the poor killing the poor themselves, and very hard to stop once started. (It is true some of the rich go first, but once started, killing is hard to stop).

          And don't forget Gordon Brown, in taxing the "filthy rich" decided that included people on the dole. The definition of "filthy rich" generally means "anyone I can get £1 out of" when it comes to inflicting pain.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Well, with tens of thousands of people* dying as a result, I'd say they've achieved their aim.

          * 45,000 between 2011 and 2014. Not a typo. (Source, BMJ)

          Not a typo, no. More like a fundamental failure to understand the difference between welfare payments (UC and other "benefits") and social care arrangements.

          Now, possibly unlike you, I've had to call on the state in the last twelve months, and a horrible, demeaning experience it was. But the curious thing is that UC actually works like a form of universal income that has rather a lot of supporters round these parts, whereas older benefits like JSA didn't. I'm now gainfully employed again, and I have NO desire to endure the nature of UC or any other government handout, but lets separate out the NATURE of UC from the IMPLEMENTATION.

          I might also add that one of the reasons for introducing UC was that the fragmented nature of former benefits meant that some households could claim more than I currently earn (and for reasons that need not be aired here, that's rather a lot compared to average incomes). Having been on the thin end of the benefits wedge, the idea of stopping some lazy f*ckers from claiming £30k per household (ie "after tax" equivalent) actually strikes me as a bloody good thing.

          A welfare state is a good thing. A system that makes welfare a well rewarded career for a few isn't.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          “* 45,000 between 2011 and 2014. Not a typo.”

          No, but a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          We need a revolution

          I for one will welcome the day when people march on Number Ten with pitchforks and flaming torches, with the intent to overthrow this corrupt and oppressive regime one and for all.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      It only encourages work because the only other option is severe poverty regardless of the situation.

      Under the old system, my attempting to work cost me dear. Specifically, my £3k income - from a business that wasn't commercially successful - cost me £8k in loss of benefits (most of that being Housing Benefit) that I'd have been eligible for if I'd just sat at home doing nothing. This was 2002 and 2003, after I'd run out of savings. In 2004 I felt positively rich, as my income reached the giddy heights of sixtysomething percent of the level of JSA. No wonder some found life on benefits preferable!

      That needed changing. The rhetoric of Universal credit sounded promising: working should always pay compared to not-working! It seems delivery has been a shambles, and I have to wonder if that's the hand of Sir Humphrey setting it up to fail because he was fighting off the minister's attempt to cut back an empire of Red Tape.

  6. Slef

    As somebody who does a bit of volunteering that involves contact with UC I can honestly say that despite hearing the hold music for up to 50 mins the system is pure SHIT! some of the staff are really helpful when you get through to a human. Then there is the assumption that everybody has t'intnet and is literate!

    I repeat that the system is feckin shit!

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge


      "Then there is the assumption that everybody has t'intnet and is literate!"

      You have hit the nail on the head there! Half the population has IQ < 100, and about one sixth have IQ < 85. Many of these are the people we are supposed to be helping, but the help will fail abysmally if it is based on unreal expectations.

      The only way to help is to have a real person there. The question remains whether we have enough such real people.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Which is quite terrifying when you think about it. My 71 Landcrab has a higher top end than the average MPs IQ (for those not aware of the minutiae of the Wolseley, 93mph (with optional JATO pack - don't ask about the diesel)).

        This actually means that a fairly large percentage of the current population would be barely equal to the retard boy on Alien³. It's like a countrywide Waltons Mountain.

        My IQ tests between 130-140 but it doesn't really matter because the intelligence signal in voting, Tesla purchasing (clue: don't do it) , or any other situation of importance is drowned out by the retard-beam squirting out into reality like something from Voldemorts wand (you should hope I mean the wooden one).

        If you have any doubt about what I'm saying I've two little words for you...

        Love Island

        The fact that that is a thing should tell you it's time for the Soylent Majority to fulfil their destiny.

        "I felt a great disturbance in the force, like a billion voices cried out in agony and were suddenly silenced. FINALLY, what a bloody relief!"

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Yes but is the hold music good?

      One True Party Music / Junta Military Pomp maybe?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Then there is the assumption that everybody has t'intnet and is literate!"

      Our company set up some training systems for foundation IT training for job seekers on the dole. I was onsite for the first day's induction. The registration process required that everybody had an email address (failed on several counts), and could access it (most people had data turned off on their phones because money, and couldn't remember their passwords because foundation IT).

      It was a fucking farce that wasted more than half of a day before they got started. The company actually delivering the training usually did stuff like SQL server and were woefully unprepared for this different audience.

  7. Jemma Silver badge

    Funny how they didn't mention...

    That the harm so far has included deaths as a direct result of non payments of UC. Including one diabetic who couldn't even afford food and died of a Hypo.

    As usual there are clues to what they're not saying in what they do. Either it should be rolled back or quite simply for every vulnerable person who dies as a result of this - a DWP/MPs relative should be publicly shot. You can bet that suddenly things will suddenly start improving or it'll be canned on the spot.

    The cretins were told time after time after time this wouldn't work, that it wouldn't provide savings yet they still did it anyway. And the best part for all you voters (of which I am proud I'm not one) YOU GAVE THEM THE POWER TO DO THIS! Congratu-fucking-lations. Word to the wise, voters, if a member of your family dies or ends up in hospital with serious avoidable complications as a result of UC incompetence DO NOT come whining to me.

    The irony is there are a fair number of people at risk of this whose health was destroyed by NHS incompetence and ended up on benefits - and now the government is screwing us over again - how do I know? I'm one of them.

    1. Fred Dibnah

      Re: Funny how they didn't mention...

      We don’t all vote Tory.

      UC isn’t meant to work. Currently we’re at step two of the neo-liberal system for public services, of degrade —> discredit —> privatise.

      1. Stu Mac

        Re: Funny how they didn't mention...

        I'm fairly sure that Fred never expected anyone else to look after him

    2. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: Funny how they didn't mention...

      This might be a large contributing factor to why crime has gone up so much lately.

      Hungry people with no support will find someway to feed themselves and pay the electric bill, even it it means mugging someone.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny how they didn't mention...

      > And the best part for all you voters (of which I am proud I'm not one)

      So you're saying that "not voting" is the way to prevent this kind of disaster?

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Funny how they didn't mention...

        If no-one votes what happens - none of the greedy self interested ex-eton types get to avoid paying tax on millions of daddy's money while ass-raping the rest of us and telling us it's in our own self interest.

        How do you think this crap happens? Magic?

        All the average idiots buy into the idea that voting will make a difference and so we go round in the same idiotic circle like the perennial confused granny in her Allegro on the M25 - falling for the same bullshit while the politicians and their sidekicks are laughing all the way to the Leeds (if they hadn't sucked everything out of it and let it collapse, for fun).

        Grenfell - oh look, backhander alert, we know it's not safe or certified gear but hey, we're rich and on the council and they're Pakis and Muslims and Fuzzy-wuzzies, oh my! One of the very few times they miscalculated. And are the people in good safe housing? Are they hell as like.

        UC - Let's systematically rape the most vulnerable - because we're bored. It's not even as if the MPs and executives are even benefitting because its OUR frigging money they're using (or more technically, yours). Let's waste money setting up, waste more running it, even more treating the disastrous human health calamities that result - and even more on the corporate weasel wording to cover it up.

        Then you have the local MP - ours is Priti Patel - yeah she's actually pretty but she's a dumb as a stump and can't even manage to stick to what execrable laws there are for controlling government bollocks.. And you voted her in - so I get to whinge but you DON'T.

        But I hear you say - it wasn't always like this..

        Let me tell you a true story.

        Once upon a time in England there was a rich smug git who noticed that alot of little girls (say over 10) were showing signs of syphilis. This is partly because of poverty and partly because of an old wives tale that if you are syphilitic and screw a virgin it cures you (probably to do with the latency of syphilis). Our socially responsible RSG thought about this and decided after some while it was a bad thing - both the child prostitution and the syphilis. After all heaven forfend one of his friends might be infected while nailing an 8 year old. How embarrassing.

        So he has a quiet chat with his friends the MPs, and then a slightly louder chat with them when they say no, and then gets some other RSGs involved and eventually the age of consent is raised to 16...

        Wonderful chap you might think, good on you mate and other congratulatory emissions... You might not be quite so complimentary when I tell you he was a brothel keeper, ran prostitutes and all his girls were 16 OR OVER. So in one fell swoop he'd gone from running what were considered high mileage slappers to providing the youngest ass you could tap without setting off an Amber Alert. I think the Americans call that a win-win scenario.

        And the best bit, despite the fact that Syphilis (until very recently) was practically eradicated from the country and despite the fact that countless studies on sexuality, sexual health and countless court cases where 11-15 year old have been done FOR CHILD ABUSE of partners the same age... We still have a stupid law designed by a pimp to make his girls more desirable, dressed up as social responsibility and used by parents and schools everywhere to duck their responsibilities as regarding educating kids.

        And the real irony - a 10 year old terminally ill child can legally make the decision to end their own lives, BY BRITISH LAW, under Gillett competency because they are considered able to understand the issues at stake - but they're a Kiddiefiddler if they're healthy (or not) and sleep with someone at 12. Are you fucking kidding me? Funnily enough it's never rich kids who end up in this position is it?

        Try and understand this.

        The MPs do not have your best interests at heart (that's assuming they've even heard of the phrase).

        The rich or the law courts do not have your interests at heart (what laws we do have have have been slowly hacked out of vested interests corpulent corpses over decades).

        The corporate cockweasels ditto - in that I include Facebook, Amazon, every single company practically you deal with.

        The only reason you get a modicum of lip service (pun not intended) from any of them is because even the most gormless customer can tell the difference between crap and slightly crapper - so it's in their interest to be slightly less shite than the next cockweasel.

        The best bit about the democratic process? You actually fell for it. You see it's a scam. It implies that you vote in one set of cretinous gimps and their policies will be engimped at the highest possible speed. Except no. Half the policies were lies and half of them are anathema to the unelected civil servants so they get buried faster than an underage hooker. Result, the country is back in the back seat of the hypothetical Allegro burbling round the London Ring Road deafened by a wheezy E series, transmission whine, gassed by mothballs and feasting on Werthers PedoPellets..

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: Funny how they didn't mention...


          The solution is obvious: A dictatorship, except that the dictator still needs to pay off their supporters. Communism then, except that the leader still needs to pay off their supporters.

          At least with democracy, when one party goes off the deep end we can get the other lot in who will then go too far the other way and thus equilibrium is achieved.

          It's possible that our position would be less crap if we used a better voting system than First Past the Post and used proportional representation or some such which tends to lead to individual parties having less power and therefore less scope to royally screw over the people who didn't vote for them.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Years ago a client of mine dealt with several govt. departments including DWP. A colleagues considered opinion? "Not the sharpest knives in the box." Nothing has changed.

    In fact nothing has changed since the days when I was a "client" when I was redeployed* and the erk behind the counter had difficulty understanding that not being able to sign on because I had a job interview at the other end of the country was incompatible with the notion of "not being available for work".

    * HMG's then current jargon, back in that weasel Harold Wilson's time.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      @Dr S

      I was once a day late for the weekly sign-on. But I showed them the interview letter and they accepted that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I was once a day late for the weekly sign-on. But I showed them the interview letter and they accepted that."

        These days the decision to sanction is out of the hands of your job centre drone. The second you're late for the weekly inquisition you've incurred a "low level" sanction and your benefit will be stopped for four weeks. You have the option to appeal but, somewhat unsurprisingly, this takes about four weeks to process.

        Do this again and you'll be left destitute for 3 months.

        Job Centres are directly targeted on how many sanctions they dole out. They're never called targets of course, more like "expectations" and "challenges" and "monitoring", but they're there.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        @ Dr S

        During my brief but unhappy period of dealing with DWP muppets, I had been arguing for several months (without any sign of benefit) that being a company director (of a £2 company) did not necessarily mean I could live off my investments between assignments.

        I finally got notification of a job interview and a hearing to determine whether I was going to get my hands on some of those juicy welfare millions, both scheduled for the same day. The telephone conversation went something like this:

        "well, you'll have to attend the hearing, or we can't pay you"

        "But I have a job interview!"

        "well, you have to decide whether your interview is more important than getting your benefit"


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ Dr S

          Had a similar situation here.

          Muppet *1 said over the phone "if you go to xxx you'll not get any benefit for that week"

          Upon phoning back not 5 hours later

          Muppet *2 said over the phone "if you are going to an interview thats fine, just let us know when"

          And this is how the Revolution started. Universal Credit just makes things even worse, people should not be afraid of standing up and being counted.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      I was 'between jobs' after my employer (Sun) had got borged and my new owner discontinued my work. Not destitute, but signed on out of bloody-mindedness and to get a little of my tax back.

      Beginning of February 2011, I went to FOSDEM, with a view very largely to sniffing around for new work. Jobcentre severely penalised me for that: I had left the country, so wasn't available for work over the weekend. They killed my claim altogether, so I had to sign up again from scratch, meaning two weeks interruption and having to travel to a deeply inconvenient regional jobcentre again.

      They really don't (or didn't) like you taking any kind of initiative! I wonder if UC would've been any different?

  9. codejunky Silver badge


    UC is a good idea. Unfortunately how on earth is it going to work when the tax/welfare system is so over complicated and disjointed?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: hmm

      The welfare system is complicated because people's lives are complicated. UC ignores all the complications and people are getting pushed into poverty because of that. UC was never a good idea nor will it be.

      The tax system is more complicated than it needs to be due to the political choices taken down the years.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: hmm

        @ Dan 55

        "The welfare system is complicated because people's lives are complicated"

        Kinda sorta maybe. There is an element of that but there is also the bribery for example triple lock pensions which are designed around buying votes. This is where I wish I believed in universal income but I am not convinced by that so far.

        You might be right that it will never be a simple enough problem for a UC system to handle but I do agree that the tax system is as complicated as it is due to politicians. Oddly this issue seems to be politicians all the way down.

        (btw I have no idea who has downvoted you. Your comment seems pretty good to me)

    2. Duffy Moon

      Re: hmm

      The welfare system could be made much less complicated and much fairer by turning it into a Universal Basic Income system.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: hmm

        You forgot cheaper. It would be cheaper to just hand out money than it is to mismanage the attempts to control it.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          Upvotes to both Duffy Moon and Adrian 4 for sensible ... provided the universal income kills off all means-testing. Kill off all those cases where loss-of-benefits due to working exceeds basic-rate tax, let alone where it exceeds 100%.

          But Sir Humphrey certainly won't stand for that: just look at the huge chunk of administrative Empire he'd lose. That could be precisely the underlying reason UC implementation has been such a shambles: Sir Humphrey is protecting his own empire and minions.

          1. annodomini2 Bronze badge

            Re: hmm

            The fundamental problem with UBI is it cannot work in a Capitalist Economy, the market will render the payments inert.

            As everybody gets something, those working have more cash and so spending goes up, demand goes up and prices go up.

            Relative value of your payments goes down until they are irrelevant, just like with JSA and the state pension.

        2. rskurat

          Re: hmm

          Demoting those DWP muppets onto Universal Basic Income certainly would save a pile.

  10. Peter Christy

    Perhaps its just me getting old, but looking at the front benches (and many of the back benches!) of ALL the political parties, I can't see a single member that I'd trust to run a corner sweet shop, let alone a government!

    Party dogma must be followed at all cost, and to hell with the consequences!

    Its all very well saying we voted for them, but look at the choices on offer! I'm sure many of us end up voting for the "least worst" candidate, simply because there isn't a "best".

    People talk about the "ship of state". Fine. But to be captain of a ship, you need qualifications. What qualifications to run a country do this collection of failures have? And NO! I DON'T count being a barrister as a qualification to be an effective administrator.....!



    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      @Peter C

      There are far to many hi falutin' ideas about what democracy is, because of ivory tower universities and idle newspaper reporters.

      Most of the time, democracy is a vote against. The history of Parliament is one of unruly barons and gentlefolk resisting the King's taxes or other gambits.

      But look at some alternative examples:

      1. At the end of WW1 and of WW2 Eastern Europe was reduced to anarchy and chaos - twice in a lifetime for many people. Even communist rule was less worse.

      2. Somalia has been plagued by anarchy after a complete breakdown of government.

      3. Afghanistan has been plagued by religious-inspired fighting.

      Britain is not perfect. But as I said above, if you think you can make it better, give it a go.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge


        It's commonly said of our model of democracy down here in the Lucky (and apparently imaginary, according to this link) Country, that nobody ever wins our elections. Elections are never won, they are only lost by governments.

        Having seen a succession of variations on "This lot are rubbish, let's give the other lot (you know, the ones we booted out in favour of this lot because they were rubbish?) a crack at it"

        Is it any wonder we drink?

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Let me commend this BBC 'Secret World' sketch (from several years ago) that includes William Hague (Tory politician) running a corner shop -

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "And NO! I DON'T count being a barrister as a qualification to be an effective administrator.....!"

      The effective administrators are supposed to be the Civil Servants but in this case they're DWP.

  11. Milton Silver badge

    Arrogant + Ignorant + Wrong = Her Majesty's Ministers

    This is what happens when you let ill-conceived ideology infect ignorant people whose ambition vastly exceeds their ability. Not only do they routinely phuc up every single that they touch, they are overweeningly arrogant to a fault, refusing to listen to experienced people who know the topic, ignoring advice, suggestions and warnings.

    The UC idea wasn't a bad one per se, but it needed professional and informed execution after a period of thorough planning and genuine consultation. As soon as it became a political plaything—especially in the hands of one of modern Britain's most blitheringly, transparently stupid ministers, Iain Duncan Smith—it was doomed. There were many points at which the sober warnings of knowledgeable people could have been listened to, and corrective action taken: but polticial ego insisted that government knew best, even as its failures and stupidities paraded past daily.

    I don't criticise ministers for deciding that a streamlined new system was needed. But their staggering incompetence in implementation is simply shameful, and their arrogance in ignoring experts unforgivable.

  12. alain williams Silver badge

    If I was several months late paying taxes ...

    I shudder to think of the fines that I would need to pay.

    UC is late paying 20% of claimants. What compensation is being paid ? I suspect zilch.

  13. Crisp Silver badge

    We're spending more on administering this than we are on actual welfare

    Maybe it's time to simplify the rules so that my tax money actually goes to people that really need it.

    Rather than government contractors, civil servants and DWP employees.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: We're spending more on administering this than we are on actual welfare

      @ Crisp

      We have a huge public sector (and private but exist only for the public sector) and the gov vacuums so much money out of the economy for their desires and amusement, it amazes me how poor a job the gov does at serving the population.

      Even when Osborne was claiming austerity he was spending more and more only reducing the increase of pissing away money. Maybe the gov/public sector should go on a diet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're spending more on administering this than we are on actual welfare

        "Maybe the gov/public sector should go on a diet."

        We did, I started work in a team of five and then the economic downturn happened.

        I now work in a team of 3 and the rest of the organisation had similar reductions in staffing levels.

        There are no plans to increase staffing levels in my team, regardless of financial climate.

      2. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

        Re: We're spending more on administering this than we are on actual welfare

        I was once told it cost £30 in administration for each £1 paid in benefits.

        Does anyone have the actual, up do date figures? or the time to do an FOI request?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: We're spending more on administering this than we are on actual welfare

          "I was once told it cost £30 in administration for each £1 paid in benefits."

          Even by UK gov standards, that sounds a tad exaggerated.

  14. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Govt. Project Fails (again)

    Government project - years late, not fit for purpose, causing actual hardship.

    I'm struggling to find anything NEW here.

  15. Mycho Silver badge

    Get it in place, have an election, let the next guys fix it. Business as usual.

    There is cross-party support for Universal Credit, just not for the cack-handed way it's being implemented.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get it in place, have an election, let the next guys fix it. Business as usual.


      There is cross-party support for Universal Credit, just not for the cack-handed way it's being implemented.


  16. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    This was always a political project after Ian Duncan Smith announced he had studied the benefit system and had a cunning plan.

    The man who put IDS into Stupid, however has shown again and again that he has no ability beyond a posh accent. It was clear at an early stage that the technical and social problems caused by the changes would always outweigh any benefits, but onwards he went because he knew best, and hey, who needs experts.

    It would of been cheaper to give every unemployed person a £1000 check and then bury the whole idea in the deepest landfill

    It will be no surprise to learn that he is also an arch brexiter and therefore I will leave you to draw your own conclusion about any similarities

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IDS has a face I could never get tired of punching.

      1. Captain Hogwash


        Give me five minutes and a curtain pole. I'll give him irritable dowel syndrome!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        IDS: Tat's what causes someone's stomach to roil with anger, right?

  17. sikejsudjek

    Its not just the obvious costs - but pushing the genuinely vulnerable into debt or homelessness costs far more in the long run. Unfortunately we are run by Daily Mail reading dick heads who believe every sick person is making it up, every unemployed person is lazy, and every disabled person is lying. Consequently the benefits that people have often paid years of national insurance for are unfairly denied. With over 60 per cent of appeals succeeding its obvious that the system is not just broken - but cruel by design. Thousands have died as a result - and I will never vote for neoliberal Governments who put private profit ahead of the lives of the vulnerable. Its utterly needless, wastes money and costs lives. As I said it appeals to elderly dick heads who read the Daily Mail who's hate filled universe extends as far as their garden gate.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      "Thousands have died as a result"

      Isn't that a headline out of the Daily Mail?

      Also, please comment here: Universal Credit system is 'bad value for money' and took too long to roll out, damning report finds

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Consequently the benefits that people have often paid years of national insurance for are unfairly denied."

      National Insurance was an exercise in getting rid of the difficult bit in the title. What you pay in doesn't go into insuring you against anything nor into a fund for your pension. It's just a form of tax. The benefits are paid out of current taxation.

      There seems to have been a campaign against ring-fencing it recently with the H word being paraded round. The Treasury must be getting worried that there'll be pressure for ring-fencing NI. You can tell how much the Treasury hates ring-fenced by the fact that they coined the alarming-sounding word "hypothecated" to describe them. What's actually wrong with them, in the Treasury's eyes, is that it's money the Treasury doesn't get to control.

      I suppose in the case of NI they do have a point but that's only because the DWP would be controlling it instead.

      1. Twanky

        NI Hypothecation...

        ...can not work. Unless you're prepared to take the line of cutting welfare to never exceed the NI tax take.

        If the economy is going well and employment is high the required welfare expenditure is reduced and the NI (and other taxes) paid into the Treasury are increased.

        If the economy is not going well and UNemployment is high then the required welfare expenditure is increased just at the time when NI (and other taxes) paid into the Treasury are reduced.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absolute, total and utter bollocks.

    No reason how far down the line it is, there is no reason at all why it can't be binned off and start again.

    May I quote as a precedent the Community Charge, a.k.a. the Poll Tax.

  19. SVV Silver badge

    Agile My Arse

    Sick of hearing this word in relation to this trainwreck of a project. Any attempt to combine 6 completely different, complex monolithic systems into a single one at once cannot and will never be "agile". If they even had a vague idea of what the vaguest principle of agile development was, they would have picked the easiest benefit first to transition to the new system, just implemented that one and called it Universal Credit. Then the remaining benefits would be added one by one, working up to the most complex last, so that lessons learned during each one can be useful as the complexity level gradually increases. That would have been vaguely agile, rather than the failed monolithic waterfall project this really is.

    Any chance the Register can put in an FOI request to see what IT staff turnover on the project is like? I bet it's pretty horrendous, as people realise that having "implementation of Universal Credit" on their cv is most likely going to lead to them sitting in a jobcentre somewhere applying through the system themselves.

  20. Adrian Midgley 1

    Because you are not a member of your constituency party

    Hold your nose, and join.

  21. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Don't worry. There's only one way to fix this: Outsource to IBM (what worst could happen)

  22. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    is now so embedded there is no alternative but to plough on

    Can someone explain the sunk costs fallacy to these bozos?

  23. Roj Blake Silver badge

    If you think UC is bad...

    ...wait until you hear about the fiascos involving PIP (formerly Disability Benefit).

    In one case, the office to attend the interview could only be reached by going up some stairs. Fail to attend the interview, you don't get your benefit. If you get out of your wheelchair to pull yourself up the stairs then you're not sufficiently disabled to warrant getting the money.

    Kafka and Heller wrote satires, not instruction manuals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you think UC is bad...

      The simple way to proceed is put some of the DWP administratoid muppets on UC, to see how they get on.

  24. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    The department had "significantly overestimated" the number of claimants that would be able to use it, the report said, as just 38 per cent succeeded, compared with the expected 90 per cent.

    That's not so much a significant overestimate of the numbers being able to use it (by 52%), but more significantly, an underestimate of the number of people not able to use it (by a whopping 520%)

    1. annodomini2 Bronze badge

      Ahh but..

      They are not using it, ergo they are not Unemployed.

      No money going out and an unemployment statistics win.

  25. steviebuk Silver badge

    So does this mean...

    .."The Department for Work and Pensions took an agile approach, meaning it could adjust its plans – but the NAO said incorporating such changes meant it had to delay or slow down the rollout."

    That "agile" is bullshit then. As a few of us have thunk all along.

    Or, as always, have the government paid overpaid consultants to spin them bullshit, that they've believed despite all the warnings. Then said once failed "Lessons have been learned" and then just gone and done the same shit all over again. Hmmm.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So does this mean...

      They use the "Fr" variant of agile - "Fragile".

      Seems to be quite common in government projects.

  26. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

    The problem will solve itself.

    The poor people will have starved soon, problem solved.

  27. 89724102372714581892524I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

    Anyone who seeks a position of power has issues.

    Politicians should be chosen like people are selected for Jury Duty.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Anyone who seeks a position of power has issues.

      >>Politicians should be chosen like people are selected for Jury Duty.<<

      With a few simple rules this couldn't be any worse than now, it would kill the current party system that's giving friends & children a first class seat on the gravy train.

      Small list of locals to vote on per seat?

      Would selection for cabinet positions be by relevant experience?

      PM to picked randomly from cabinet?

      Re-election allowed?

      Current or ex jail birds, Bankrupts, Current company directors to be excluded? (add to list at your pleasure)

      How do we get the turkeys in situ to vote for xmas?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone who seeks a position of power has issues.

        Mark Thomas (of Channel 4's Comedy Product) had the best idea. All politicians served a five year term, then were walked out of Parliament and shot. We'd either get complete altruists or mentalists - and either would do a better job than the current lot.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone who seeks a position of power has issues.

      Not really. Some of us do have hopes for fixing things. Sadly, If its like locally however (an Australian State) they will have rules to be able to block the progress of any who are not anointed by the powers of the party you wish to join. How do you piss the party off and get it against you.

      Easy. Expect competent leadership, challenge it when it isn't. Oh and bring more people into the party. Yes this is one of the major political parties. A lovely little point in their constitution giving the overarching body the ability to veto any elected position in any branch. You would think it would be used rarely for real troublemakers. But no. Its politics so they use it promote those they want. You setup a branch full, they will put in their chosen over the top. Those that aren't a potential threat, but sound vaguely competent. Those that will owe their masters a metric fukton. Oh and quietly let you know if you dare go for a position of authority. You will be blocked, even if you have the numbers.

      Democracy's a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy cause sure as hell, given a chance people will take it away from you.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    "The UK government hasn't delivered value for money and has caused some claimants hardship but is now so embedded there is no alternative but to plough on"


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use of the word "Agile"

    "Meanwhile, the NAO noted that the DWP is using its agile approach as a reason not to set smaller milestones for delivering automation and the remaining functionality the project promised."

    ^^^ I haven't read the full report, but that does sound like the diametric opposite of "agile" as I understand it, i.e. an approach that dilutes project risk by delivering *more* frequently in smaller increments

  30. TheSkunkyMonk

    The only good thing about this is the name! Why not dump all the paperwork and pay every British citizen a universal income instead of the current benefits system, a basic living allowance to cover the costs of life allowing us to work towards better things and brighter futures, it would ease the labor market and make companies give better benefits to get those workers, it would lead to people living a more varied and rewarding life instead of the stress and divides we currently have! Lets keep the name and make a change for the better of society instead of for the greed of others.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      It's not that simple. Leaving aside whether basic income would work, and historic allowances etc there will always be people that require more than the basic income. PIP, Motability and others will always have to be administered (hopefully better than the vindictive way it's implemented at the moment).

      If companies are providing better benefits, the money has to come from somewhere, not to mention the cost of covering multiple people doing the same job, if you're deciding to spend <n> days a week doing non work activities because of a basic income.

  31. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    UC is fundamentally a good idea

    It's the implementation that sucks, and the fact not enough money is being pumped into it.

    Who said this? No, not me - the architect of Universal Credit, on Radio 4.

    So the guy has designed a system that prevents people being stuck in a benefit trap, and the government has ignored the resources that are required to make it work.

    He knows it should work, but isn't. The goverment knows it needs to be putting in more resources to fix it, but won't. The electorate are supporting the party most keen on cracking down on welfare.

    It doesn't work when you do it on the cheap and have no flexibility.

    Likewise with the bedroom tax - the principle is sound, but taxing people when there are no properties to avoid the charge is wrong.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: UC is fundamentally a good idea

      The government won't fix it, because it was a coalition policy and they no longer have to suck up to the Lib Dems.

      Here is a good plain English (or rather Scottish) summary of the good principles and bad implementation of UC coming from the SNP's Mhairi Black. It's well worth a listen.

      In other words, the tories never liked UC and would quite like it killed stone dead. It's a coalition compromise that they've failed to completely butcher yet.

  32. DaveB


    I think the real problem is that the UC developers have been moonlighting down at TSB(Spain)

  33. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Google: "Tony Collins Crash"

    n/t ....

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disgusting for some and not for others

    I have claimed the old job seekers briefly on about three, maybe four occasions over about 23 years (working from 12 to 35) due to circumstances out with my control and have faced nothing but problems, hardship, stress and as close as I would like to get to a nervous breakdown! The DWP along with my local council have let me down time after time in situations where my need was the most desperate and in the end I had to pull myself out out of it. Although I was one of the lucky ones that on occasion I had help from family and friends. Although that can cause problems in itself. I have only recently joined universal credits and had my doubts and worries as most of u probably have and especially cause of the major problems I have had in the past where the DWP are concerned! Although and so much of a major shock and surprise to myself after my past experiences I have nothing but good things to say about universal credit and the DWP. They have made my transition to universal credits very easy and efficiently and have helped me as much as I consider they possibly could. This came as a major surprise and shock to me as I expected problems and stress from the start and beyond due to past experience bit so far anyway, I have had everything I need, want and are entitled to. I feel a lot of the universal credit problems from what I have read on here and in the general media that the problem isore with people who are claiming disability. I recently stopped caring for my best friend who receives and is totally entitled to disability payments although there is a lot of people out there that are kit and are trying to con the system and these are things I have seen with my own eyes and not just heard through media. So unfortunately and own opinion, people are finding problems and.suffering due to others scamming and conning the system. It's disgusting and the innocent are the ones that are suffering!!!!

  35. TheMeerkat

    Any government project is bound to end up like this. It is the nature of the beast. This is why Socialist countries never work.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      re: Socialist countries never work

      Try telling that to Sweden and Norway.

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