Universal Credit heavily criticised by public spending watchdog

In a new report, the National Audit Office (NAO) has stated that it is uncertain that Universal Credit will ever deliver value for money, and has strongly criticised the Department for Work and Pensions for not recognising the hardship the policy has caused claimants.

The NAO said in its report that the core claims of the governments' flagship welfare programme are based on unproven assumptions, fails to deliver the financial savings or employment benefits promised, and has left thousands of vulnerable claimants facing financial difficulties.

In the summary of its conclusions, the NAO states, "The Department has now got a better grip of the programme in many areas. However, we cannot judge the value for money on the current state of programme management alone. Both we, and the Department, doubt it will ever be possible for the Department to measure whether the economic goal of increasing employment has been achieved. This, the extended timescales and the cost of running Universal Credit compared to the benefits it replaces cause us to conclude that the project is not value for money now, and that its future value for money is unproven."

Margaret Greenwood, the shadow secretary for work and pensions, said in response, “This report shows just how disastrously wrong the government has got the rollout of Universal Credit. It has shamelessly ignored warning after warning about the devastating impact its flagship welfare reform has had on people’s lives."

The full report and further analysis from the NAO can be viewed here.