Westminster loses £36 million of Scotland’s money – Falkirk District over £1 million worse off
Friday, 08 November 2013 11:10
A House of Commons report has said Iain Duncan Smith’s universal credit scheme has been so badly managed it is about to write-off up to £425 million - £36 million of which reflects Scotland’s pro-rata share.
In a humiliating moment for the Work and Pensions secretary, the public accounts committee criticised almost every aspect of the project, from its management to the limitations of the pilot scheme. It comes just weeks after a speech by Sir John Major warned of the dangers of the project, and follows a report from a spending watchdog which claimed the plans were “flawed” and “over-ambitious”.
Under the UK government's plans, six key means-tested benefits - jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, income support and child tax credit - are to be combined into a single payment which ministers say will ensure that claimants are always better off in work and also reduce fraud. It has been delayed following a number of pilots earlier this year.
Commenting on the impact to his constituency, Falkirk East MSP, Angus MacDonald said:
"£425 million has been spent so far on the programme. It is likely that much of this, including at least £140 million worth of IT assets, will now have to be written off, which equates to early £1.1 million for Falkirk District.
“This report highlights many problems with the project including officials being unable to explain the reasoning behind their timescales or their feasibility, inept computer systems, and no real management.
“We already knew the Tory- Lib Dem government’s welfare reforms were discriminatory, but we can now see the extent of how badly managed this project is.
“What makes this all the more galling is that 82% of Scottish MPs opposed this, and Scottish tax-payer’s money is being wasted in the process.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. Scotland has already made its opposition to welfare cuts absolutely clear, and a majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare policy for Scotland.”