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Universal Credit ‘hasn’t been signed off’ – what does that mean?

8 July 2014

Is Universal Credit progressing as well as it should? Yesterday Sir Bob Kerslake, who is not consistently helpful to political colleagues, dropped a bit of a bombshell during a Public Accounts Committee hearing. Discussing the Treasury and the business case for Universal Credit:

‘We shouldn’t beat about the bush: it hasn’t been signed off.’

Labour got very excited about this, with Chris Bryant pointing out that last week Esther McVey told Rachel Reeves in a parliamentary answer that ‘the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has approved the UC Strategic Outline Business Case plans for the remainder of this Parliament’.


The DWP argues that this is wrong, and that the Treasury has ‘approved all funding to date’. Here is the full response:

‘Universal Credit is on track to roll out safely and securely against the plan set out last year – the new service now available in 24 JobCentres, and last week expanded to claims from couples. The Treasury has been fully engaged in the roll-out plan and have approved all funding to date.’

Civil servants haven’t always signed off on Universal Credit as a principle: indeed, one of the reasons relations grew quite so bad between ministers and the department’s permanent secretary, Robert Devereux, was that he saw UC as just one of the DWP’s many projects, rather than the most significant one that he must devote a large chunk of his time to. That has long since changed after aggressive Westminster briefing against Devereux.

But Kerslake’s comments show that there are still shaky foundations under the reform, which should worry those desperate to see it survive the general election.

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  • Makroon

    How well ‘should it be progressing’ in your esteemed opinion Ms Hardman ?

  • david trant

    So you embark on probably one of the most complicated reforms any British government has ever attempted and to ensure its safe passage you put in charge a man whose entire political career has been one of abject failure. So useless that he was defenestrated before he had a chance to take the Tory party to an even more crushing defeat than it managed under his successor and you then wonder why the whole thing is heading up sh*t creek?

    • HookesLaw

      Except it is not.

      • david trant

        Oh Yes it is!!

    • Mynydd

      It seems that Mr Cameron his cabinet and ministers do not know the actual and true position of Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit scheme. Therefore it as become urgent that Mr Miliband’s commitment to place a hold on UC for three months and conduct an in depth review of the whole scheme and what to do about it.

  • Amir

    Read this article about Gordon Brown and his welfare state:

    • Greenslime

      That site is in serious need of a Proof Reader. Preferably one who has a fair command of the English language.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Good cartoon of Brown though, showing nicely his dour, soviet-suited politburo look.

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