Universal Credit ‘broken’


The IT system on which Universal Credit is built is so riddled with design flaws and process faults that it is practically guaranteed to generate mistakes and push people into financial crisis, according to whistleblowers.

Welfare secretary Esther McVey has admitted there are continuing problems and has said that ministers and officials needed to listen more carefully to claimants, campaigners and frontline workers.

IT system

The computer system behind Universal Credit has been described as ‘over-complex’, ‘prone to errors’ and ‘cobbled-together’ by service centre workers.

This has led to benefit payments being delayed for weeks or wrongly reduced by hundreds of pounds.

On top of the initial 35-day waiting period for a claimant's first Universal Credit payment, these IT mistakes are adding an average of three weeks to the wait, often leaving claimants in arrears and relying on foodbanks.

‘Culture of indifference’

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has come under fire for having a ‘culture of indifference’ to claimants and ignoring basic errors that have led to thousands of people being underpaid.

One whistleblower said many of the design problems with Universal Credit stem from the failure to understand claimants’ needs.

Pritie Billimoria, Head of Communications at Turn2us, said:

“Universal Credit was supposed to bring the welfare benefits system into the digital age. But yet again, we hear that it simply is not working. 

“Within the next four years, eight million people will claim Universal Credit and if we want to avoid a social security crisis, it needs to be fixed quickly.

“The growing catalogue of problems with the roll out of Universal Credit are getting harder to brush off as isolated cases. We need the elephant in the room to be addressed before more people are pulled into poverty.

What help is available?

Find out if you can get a Universal Credit Advance.

If you think a Universal Credit decision is wrong, you may be able to get it changed. Find out how to challenge a Universal Credit decision.

If you are claiming Universal Credit and need to seek advice about your entitlements, use our Find an Adviser tool.

Use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to find out how much Universal Credit you are entitled to.


The Guardian: Universal Credit IT System 'broken', whistleblowers say