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Universal Credit in the spotlight again as pilot timetable changes

Derek du Preez | April 3, 2013
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said that only one of the four planned pilot areas for its high profile welfare reform project, Universal Credit, will go live in April as planned, once again raising questions about the success of the implementation so far.

A claimant will only be able to book an appointment at a job centre in the selected areas using the new system, but when they come to claim Universal Credit in person, the calculations of the benefit will be carried out on spreadsheets.

Director at analyst firm TechMarketView, Georgina O'Toole, has said that even if a few claimants are unable to get hold of their benefits on time, will likely put further pressure on the large SIs working for government, which are already being squeezed by a number of public sector initiatives to break away from cumbersome contracts and work with more SMEs.

The main companies involved with Universal Credit rollout are Accenture, IBM, HP and BT.

"Even if technical difficulties are overcome, the impact of bad press related to even just a handful of claimants experiencing delays to their benefits will be huge," said O'Toole.

"Once again it will be the large SIs in the spotlight (even if the fault lies elsewhere). And that could be very damaging at a time when they are already facing an uphill struggle in terms of their reputation in central government."

 

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