Former ‘poverty tsar’ attacks universal credit scheme

The proposed new universal credit system is on a 'disaster course' because of overwhelming practical problems, according to the government's former 'poverty tsar'.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Frank Field voices concern over 'unrealistic' timescales for implementing the computer system needed to make the government's scheme work; and he accuses the Department for Work and Pensions of 'burying its head in the sand' over the risks involved. He also reveals that he has asked the National Audit Office to carry out a special enquiry.

Field also takes aim at the principles underlying the universal credit, and in particular the claim that it will overcome work disincentives in the current benefits system. Field argues that universal credit is the 'ultimate form of means-testing': although it gets extra money to working families on low wages, in doing so it 'rots the soul'. He says recipients would have to be 'saints' not to take the loss of credit payments into account when deciding whether to work longer or to train for a more highly paid job.

Source: Article by Frank Field MP, The Guardian, 10 September 2012
Links: Article | Guardian report | BBC report