Channel 4, 8pm: DWP’s Universal Credit ‘Lobster Pot’ – Brian Wernham


Reposted from Brian Wernham’s blog:

“Jay Montrose had previously been living on his own and claiming UC as a single person. In June he moved in with his partner, Nikki Colton, who is pregnant, and their four-year-old son, Ethan. Montrose and Colton told Dispatches their claim took so long to process, they were unable to pay for food, rent and other bills, built up debts of £2,500 and eventually received an eviction notice from their landlord. Now their claim is being processed manually.” Sources: Guardian & Channel 4

DWP said the couple’s claim had been delayed because the pair had failed to complete the correct forms.

So, what went wrong at DWP? Lobster pots…

The intended ‘big bang’ implementation of Universal Credit was based on the ‘lobster pot’ principle. The idea was that once a claimant is on the Universal Credit IT system, he/she remains on it – no matter how complex their life becomes.

For this simplifying assumption to work, the staff (using the cobbled together IT that DWP has agreed to write off by 2016) have to calculate up to six existing benefits simultaneously as soon as a claimant’s life gets more complex. The IT simply can’t deal with that complexity, so it is up to staff at Job Centres to do so.

When the coalition government came into power, it introduced a new IT Strategy to ensure that incremental ‘Agile’ development would be the norm, and thus new IT projects would be less risky.  There has been one exception to the rule: the Universal Credit programme.

Despite DWP’s insistence that an Agile and incremental approach was taken on Universal Credit, the NAO and the Cabinet Office “do not consider that DWP has … appropriately adopted an Agile approach.”  The approach was, in fact, the opposite of Agile: it was predicated on a ‘big bang’ implementation of all the Universal Credit functions simultaneously from October 2013.  A target that has now been abandoned.

Can the Universal Credit Programme be put back on track?

(Visit Brian Wernham’s blog to read his thoughts on the matter.)

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12 thoughts on “Channel 4, 8pm: DWP’s Universal Credit ‘Lobster Pot’ – Brian Wernham

  1. aturtle05

    Idiots Dripping Suggestions’ belief system goes wrong. “Let’s make life harder for claimants by lumping all the benefits together! All we need to do is pay all six benefits in one lump sum and make them sort out their rent and other costs that are normally paid direct to the landlord or council.”

    “Good idea boss” Says a yes man,

    “OK, we’ll get it in place two weeks from a fortnight ago!”

    Most of the policies of the ConDem coalition have been thought out in the past four years and have to be implemented as soon as possible to make people think they are doing something. If the parties would start thinking of what needs to be done as soon as the previous election then they could put them into effect when they get voted in.

    For example, if the Conservative party were to start thinking what needs to be done, plans it out starting now, running the ideas back and forth until 2020, if they get back into power then, the policies would be properly thought out and might work. (Please read Conservative as Labour, LibDem or whatever party you want)

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The problem with that is that they have been putting their well-thought-out policies into effect – it’s just that these policies have little or no correlation with what they told us they would do. NHS reorganisation wasn’t mentioned in any manifesto but they did it because it improved business for Tory Party funders. They tinkered with the system to make this country a tax haven for wealthy businesspeople, rather than helping cut the national debt or deficit. They hammered the benefit system to make people more willing to work for less, providing more profits to their friends – and it has worked, because those people are now twice as wealthy as they were before Cameron and his creepy friends crossed the threshold of Number 10.

  2. Jeffrey Davies

    i wonder will they has channel 4 and 5 take money from bbc tv fee and are they about to bite the hand that feeds them has they toe the line with everything else funny isnt it if it wasnt so serious this man rtu ids has spent billions boying his friends companys up with tax payers monies will cams sack him or like we all think his book of deeds has many um

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Sorry Jeff; usually I can understand what you’re saying but what’s the last bit about?

  3. joanna may

    Iv’e got me a thought now, if UC comes to where I am living I will simply stop paying rent for 2 months, then rent will automatically go straight to the council, and with the rent money during the 2 months I will use that to buy myself a bed (I currently sleep on a sofa).

  4. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Time and time again IDS was told that UC was not working (particularly around the IT issues) but they were not listened to. Of course this happens all the time in government departments … the only people the tories like to listen to are hedge fund managers, CEOs of transfer pricing companies and tory donors.

Comments are closed.