Introducing Universal Credit was always going to be a “courageous” undertaking. There were the technical and managerial challenges of simplifying complex benefits, together with large scale change to IT and working processes. Furthermore the project aims were also set very high – to change culture among benefit recipients while making sure the most vulnerable people did not slip through the net. And all of this was to be implemented at a time when budgets, and staff resources, were being dramatically reduced. Some were sceptical from the start – not least the Treasury. But this was the project that Secretary of State Iain Duncan-Smith came into government to implement – and it was driven on a wave of political momentum. The government’s track record of IT disasters meant that there were warning lights flashing from the start as it was a project that depended on major IT change. There was a real push inside and outside government to change the way government ran IT projects, as we set out in our 2011 report, System Error. We, along with others, welcomed the news that Universal Credit would be run differently to past projects, using agile techniques to deliver iterative, modular functionality that […]

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