The universal credit rollout has been delayed until November 2020 at the earliest, the BBC understands.
The initial aim had been to start moving people in small batches on to universal credit from January 2019. The process would then accelerate in July 2019. Now though, it is understood that initial testing won’t begin to next summer, with full movement delayed until November 2020. The leak to the BBC predicts the total delay for full implementation to be around 9 months. That would bring the total delay since its announcement in 2010 to 6 years.
The Department for Work and Pensions said it could not comment on the leaked document, calling the report speculation.
The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, told the House of Commons “Under the process of managed migration, the rollout will be slow and measured.
“It will start not in January 2019, but later in the year. For a further year, we will be learning as we go with a small amount of people – maybe 10,000 – to ensure that the system is right. The rollout will then increase from 2020 onwards. It will be slow and measured, and we will adapt and change as we go.”
The news is the latest serious problem with universal credit and its rollout. The National Audit Office recently said that the programme was “driven by an ambitious timescale” and had suffered from “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance”.
TPN recently reported that in areas where universal credit had already been rolled out, food bank use has risen by 52%.
"The Conservatives seem to have quietly accepted that their flagship social security programme isn't working.
— Labour Press Team (@labourpress) October 16, 2018