back to article Department of Work and Pensions internal docs reveal troubled history of Universal Credit

After a two-year legal battle, the UK government's Department for Work and Pensions has capitulated – and released a series of embarrassing assessments of its disastrous Universal Credit programme. The internal project assessment reviews (PARs) of the troubled programme from 2012-2015 were released after campaigner John Slater …

  1. James 51

    I often find focusing on the how is a displacement activity for not know what they are trying to achieve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They are trying to achieve a pension

      And there is 2-3 hours a day to fill between tea breaks, which can be taken up with meetings.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    which of the megacorps was behind it 2012-15?

    I imagine it's someone like Capita? Blaming problems on "slavish devotion to agile" is like blaming a hammer for a nail going in wrong. It's more about how you use it, or any other alternative, that determines the outcome.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: which of the megacorps was behind it 2012-15?


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: which of the megacorps was behind it 2012-15?


  3. BebopWeBop

    Slater noted that many of the assertions are repeated in the reports. "How many times have you got to build a strong leadership team?" he said.

    "This confirms to me the DWP been dishonest, no way do the reports reflect what the DWP had been putting out in its press releases at the time.

    A succinct and apparently accurate summary of the situation. Plus ca change.

  4. Christoph

    Delay publication of the report for several years.

    State that it was all years ago and the problems have now been fixed.

    Rinse. Repeat.

    While the citizens of this country who it is your job to help are driven to despair, starvation and suicide.

  5. codejunky Silver badge


    UC is a good idea but how on earth can it be implemented with such a complicated welfare system that we have? Add politicians to the mix and a snowballs chance in hell looks more promising.

    1. mhoulden

      Re: Hmm

      I'm happy for someone to tell me why I'm wrong, but isn't it just a glorified payroll system with a heavy dose of the workhouse test and the old Victorian attitude of the undeserving poor? A good start might be to use a company that specializes in doing such things rather than the usual suspects, and ditching the political condescension that makes it so expensive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm

        Having worked on various payroll systems and benefits systems there is actually very little commonality (or transferable IP) between them unfortunately.

    2. Duffy Moon

      Re: Hmm

      We could totally un-complicate the welfare system, eliminate the benefit trap and much poverty by scrapping the disastrous UC and instigating UBI. It's going to have to happen sooner or later and the sooner the better.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @ Duffy Moon

        "eliminate the benefit trap and much poverty by scrapping the disastrous UC and instigating UBI"

        I am not convinced by UBI because I expect it will just raise prices to account for the new 'zero' income (whatever UBI is) and I would want to see some costings for it. I do hope it works though and I hope we let others try first to see where the problems are before we implement it. Its an interesting idea I have never been sold on but do like.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government IT problems... at ten. Given that even the opposition party have gone quiet on it, I guess the rollout is actually on track.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Opposition silence?

      Nah, The Labor PArty will want to Nationalise it. That seems to be their solution to everything at the moment.

      Oh... wait... It is already part of the Government.

  7. Kaltern

    UC is, ultimately, an attempt to streamline the welfare payments in such a way that sanctions and reviews are far easier and quicker to apply. It doesn't actually HELP those in need in any way whatsoever.

    Those 'in charge' have no interest in how this affects those who claim, because all they're interested in is, ultimately, the welfare figures, and keeping them as low as possible, thus looking good to those that vote.

    And besides, as any good Conservative knows, anyone who claims on welfare doesn't deserve it anyway, and should be shot immediately for being unproductive.*

    *this is a joke. For those who are unable to understand sarcasm.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "*this is a joke. For those who are unable to understand sarcasm."

      Not amongst the "JRM" end of the party.

      The sort who think they pay their Bulgarian nanny at least £50 000 PA.

      But yes UC does seem designed to increase people level of despis

      Supposedly it's meant to mimic having a monthly salary.

      AFAIK that mean "Delay 1st payment by 6 weeks, regardless of how much need y ou have"*

      * And no you can't have it on the first of the month, Computer says no.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        But yes UC does seem designed to increase people level of despis

        That should read "But yes UC does seem designed to increase people level of despair."

        Apologies for any misunderstanding caused.

        OTOH any despair, anxiety, depression and attempted suicide is strictly on the ass clowns who PM'd this, and their civil servant masters.*

        *Because you can bet no actual Minister was running this day to day.

  8. Queeg

    Slow and Steady

    Safe and Secure

    All your Concerns will be taken under advisement

    Think of the Children

    "keep going, keep talking, some of the Plebs are nodding. I think it might still work,"

  9. SVV

    Government IT does Agile!

    "Another observation suggested the depth of frustration with the agile techniques previously applied. "This no longer feels like a programme dominated by a fixation on the agile methodology, or being dominated by technologists," it said, adding that "red lines for digital service products have been agreed."

    Hmmmm. I smell a silver bullet having been discovered in this "agile thing" and then screwed up really really badly. I imagine 18 month long working groups being established that produce documents hundreds of pages long full of rules and procedures that must always be strictly followed to the letter in order to "do agile". Then lots more hours wasted trying to analyse why this very non agile approach to agile wasn't producing the magical results they expected and conveniently heaping the blame on the "technologists", whatever they mean by that. Clueless non IT Oxbridge graduate career civil servants leading the way into the mess as per usual.

    Never mind, we have the goverment's shiny new silver bullet soltuion for everything : red lines! Just keep drawing lots of those and you too can paint yourself into a corner!

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Perpendicular Red Lines!

      Six of them, one shaped like a cat!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time Heals

    If only they were as skilled in this as they clearly are in delay tactics.

  11. fluffybunnyuk

    The measure of a civilization is how we treat the unequal in a society of inequalities.

  12. TrumpSlurp the Troll


    Where are they, and their money reaming leaders, now?

    The ones who pushed Agile as fluffy bunny fairy farts which could magically solve all IT problems by producing a web page?

    I assume that they are off somewhere being disruptive innovators whilst the poor sods left behind are following some other process. Although I don't recall seing what they are doing post Agile.

    Agile in theory has some obvious attractions for software dealing with Government legislation because the requirements are likely to change twice a year with Spring and Autumn statements so a process which takes at least 6 months to write, review and agree system specifications is always going to struggle.

    Looking back to more traditional development environments, one way to proceed is to have a requirements freeze so that the developers have enough time to produce a working system before changing the rules.

    This does require government bodies to recognise how much they depend on IT to deliver services and that populist short termism can be counter productive to the running of the country. Good luck with that.

    This approach also risks giving too much power to the IT departments. Much sucking of teeth each time a change is proposed. Computer says No!

    Universal Credit seems to be an attempt to simplify the process and get all the benefits on one system. So yet again theory and practice diverge.

    Yet another reason to go to a basic wage for everyone regardless of need. Much money will go to the undeserving but the total cost to the country is likely to be much lower than the time and money spent trying to discriminate. There will, of course, be the additional problem of loads of unemployed from the consultancies who are currently coining it but not delivering. Also their Civil Service friends.

    1. fluffybunnyuk

      Re: GDS

      *giggle* he said fluffy bunny. have a thumbs up

    2. conscience

      Re: GDS

      It appears they are all leaving as promises have not been kept, and the rest don't have a clue what they are doing or how best to do it.

      According to the latest issue of Private Eye, GDS recruits were hired with the promise of training in "digital, data and technology skills", and many of these were fast tracked as "technology leaders", but "many are wondering what they are being trained to do and finding themselves in posts for which they are eminently unsuited".

      "One fast streamer was given a job as a software developer, despite never having written a line of code in his life and knowing no computer languages. Others, again with no relevant knowledge of experience, were assigned jobs as network technical architects".

      It appears the problem, besides the lack of proper training, is that the jobs themselves are not assigned by GDS but assigned by the civil service human resourcing unit, many of whom are "less than au fait with the requirements of the various job description templates".

      "At the end of the scheme, fast streamers were promised jobs at Grade 7 level, the second-most senior tier of the civil service with significant policy responsibilities. Such roles, however, are proving thin on the ground. As a result, one fast streamer tells the Eye, they are leaving the scheme in droves - many taking their skills to the private sector. GDS, meanwhile, continues to hire in private contractors at extortionate pay rates to fill the technical skills gap of its own in-house team".

      Sounds like a right mess.

  13. unwarranted triumphalism

    Another mess inherited from Labour

    Komrade Korbyn should be made to repay every single penny of money wasted on this debacle. I wonder how much he has already channeled to his masters in the Kremlin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another mess inherited from Labour

      Eh! This was an IDS aka The Quiet Man 'initiative'. IDS has moved on so he can blame the failure to deliver on somebody else now.

      WTF has Jezza got to do with this. You can accuse Korbyn of many things, cocking up Universal Credit isn't one of them. I would go so far as to say he is blameless in this regard.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Another mess inherited from Labour

      Corbyn may have many faults (such as his unfortunate leaning towards brexit) but you can't lay UC at his feet, as noted above, it was IDS all the way, a man who has married into money and never had to work a proper job in his life*.

      While we're at it, the whole Corbyn/Kremlin thing comes from the gutter press and has been pretty thoroughly debunked. Take a look at the other lot if you want to see what receiving cash from Russian oligarchs actually looks like. It doesn't take too long to find details on t'internet, along with pictures.

      *His 'tour of duty' in the army, consisted of an office role in NI.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: Another mess inherited from Labour

        Except that Komrade Korbyn has already admitted it was true.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Another mess inherited from Labour

          [Citation Required]

  14. gurugeorge

    This story should be a lot bigger than the press it's getting

    Look up the guy. I spent about an hour researching him. He has a bunch of foi I requests One article And some more stuff online. The fact that he went to court spent two years in his own money for this is more than a lot of our politicians would do. I really think we need to change the way we vote for our leaders

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    IDS - Stands for Irritable Duncan Smith.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: TLA

      ...and IBS stands for Iain Bunkum Smith

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TLA

      Irritable Dick Syndrome

  16. CareyKay

    Iain Bunkum Smith

    How very polite of you! I would have chosen a different 'B' word personally.... ;o)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GDS weren't at fault for agile in this case. A senior delivery manager drank the agile kool aid back in 2010 and found it aligned to his JFDI attitude to project delivery. DWP hired a really good agile consultancy to work alongside the big 5 and then sacked the staff from that agency one by one for suggesting that the project was doomed because everyone thought they were doing agile but the big 5 couldn't and wouldn't and were in reality running the show.

    AC cause I was there man.

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