A LEEDS MP promoted by Labour in last week’s reshuffle used her first appearance at the dispatch box to attack the “catalogue of errors” in the Government’s flagship welfare reform.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Labour’s new Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said the Government’s planned “universal credit” system – designed to transform a large number of different benefits into one single payment – has already wasted millions of pounds, and will not be up and running as planned next year.
“By April next year, it will be possible to claim universal credit at just 10 job centres out of a total of 772,” Ms Reeves told the House of Commons.
“Meanwhile, the National Audit Office says that £34m has already had to be written off, £303m is now at risk, and Ministers have failed to set out how the policy will work. It is a catalogue of errors.
“Will the Secretary of State tell us how much money spent on the project will be money down the drain?”
Her comments follow a highly critical report by auditors which warned the Government’s new IT systems could cause the system to fail.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith hit back, however, insisting the policy will be delivered “on time and within budget”.
He highlighted Labour’s own record of failed IT projects during its 13 years in Governent.
“I should point out that this is not a failed policy,” the Conservative Minister said. “It will roll out successfully on time and within budget. Where does the word ‘failure’ apply to that?
“(Ms Reeves) is part of a party whose time in office saw more than £28bn wasted on IT programmes, with complete chaos most of the time it was there. This will roll out on time and within budget.”