News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Universal Credit “roll out” in Shotton – Will it be this year?

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Sep 4th, 2013.

There appears to be some confusion and a distinct lack of communication around the forthcoming roll out of Universal Credit at Shotton Job centre,

The department for Work & Pensions website states:

Universal Credit will expand to 6 new Jobcentres starting from October 2013.

The following Jobcentres will be included-

  • Hammersmith
  • Rugby
  • Inverness
  • Harrogate
  • Bath
  • Shotton

Screenshot from 2013-09-04 14:55:18

Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru for Arfon recently asked Mark Hoban MP Minister of State for Work and Pensions

“On what date he expects universal credit to be implemented in Wales as a pilot scheme and in full”

In a written response Mr Hobans replied

“As part of our plan for progressive rollout, Shotton Jobcentre is one of six new sites which will begin dealing with universal credit claims during 2013-14″

“We are now working with partners locally to agree an implementation plan and go live date.”

Mr Hoban is clearly choosing his words carefully, given the ICT probles the scheme is facing up to, his reply lacks any commitment to a specific date, month or even year,

No dates appear to have been agreed with the “partners” in Shotton, or at least they are not being communicated to key people within certain organisations.

Deeside.com has learned from two separate sources that Universal Credit is still some way off being launched in Shotton, one of the sources said there had originally been “general chatter” of a late 2013 launch, “but things seem to have changed”

We did send an email to the Department for Work & Pensions at the beginning of August seeking clarity on dates,  and are yet to receive any response.

Flintshire Citizens Advice have also been seeking information on the actual roll out date.

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Universal Credit is the flagship project of Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, it has been dogged by technical and bureaucratic problems and is behind schedule.

Under Government plans, six key benefits are to be combined into a single payment which will ensure that claimants are always better off in work

The complexities of merging many different computer systems has been a focal point of many critics and the media alike.

Howard Shiplee, The man brought in to steer the flagship project has admitted that the Department for Work and Pension’s Universal Credit project has been poorly managed and needs to be completely overhauled.

“It’s clear to me there were examples of poor project management in the past, a lack of transparency where the focus was too much on what was going well and not enough on what wasn’t and with suppliers not managed as they should have been.”

He added that some of the problems were down to bad luck, and that they were “back on course”.

However, he said: “I’m not in the business of making excuses, and I think it’s always important to acknowledge in any project where things may have gone wrong in order to ensure we learn as we go forward.”

Earlier in the summer it was revealed the IT system built for Universal Credit was so flawed that skilled staff working on a pilot scheme had been forced to enter data by hand.

Mr Shiplee also said

“The DWP is now working with the Government Digital Service team “to explore an enhanced IT programme that would offer more flexibility and security to benefit claimants,”

To date It’s unclear how much taxpayer money has been lost as a result of the botched implementation of Universal Credit

 

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