Shadow Chancellor Balls taunted the Work Secretary: “No mention of Universal Credit in this statement. IDS – in deep shambles”
Top Tory Iain Duncan Smith was branded a “shambles” after finally admitting that his flagship benefit reform will not happen on time.
The Work Secretary told MPs that the Universal Credit was going to plan just a few weeks ago.
But today Mr Duncan Smith confessed that 700,000 people – one in 10 of those who are supposed to switch to the new system – will not be on it by the 2017 deadline.
The admission comes after years of Government denials that the programme is in deep trouble.
The Tory, known as “IDS”, was accused of trying to bury the bad news under the Government’s Autumn statement on the economy.
And Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls taunted him in the Commons.
“With almost one million people unemployed, a record number who want to work full-time being forced to accept part-time work, the Work Programme has flopped, the welfare bill rising and as we have learned today the universal credit in complete and utter shambles,” Mr Balls said.
“No mention of the Universal Credit in this statement. IDS – In Deep Shambles.”
The Universal Credit wraps up half a dozen different benefits in a single payment.
But the roll-out has been delayed after it was hit by costly IT disasters.
The Commons spending watchdog recently savaged the way it has been handled.
That was despite allegations that Mr Duncan Smith tried to lean on MPs to water it down.
The Department for Work and Pensions today insisted that most of those who do not transfer on time will be those who are judged too sick or disabled to ever work but could not give figures.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “We may take a little longer on those who are already in, say, ESA, who have no work requirement on them because they are a very vulnerable group and therefore Howard Shiplee may say we want to take a little more time on them because they need to be processed carefully and dealt with carefully.
“But essentially Universal Credit as a benefit will be the benefit by 2016 and the remains of the vast, vast majority of the stock will be in place pretty much by the end of 2017.”
But shadow Work Secretary Rachel Reeves said: “It’s clear that David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have completely failed to get to grips with their flagship welfare reform and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been written off as a result.
“Families facing a cost-of-living crisis deserve better than this.”
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