Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says computer crashes and delays have left families in debt and at risk of eviction.
The roll out of the full digital service for universal credit has been plagued by errors, delays and computer crashes, leaving vulnerable families in debt and at risk of eviction, an MP has said.
Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, home to one of a handful of locations to pioneer the full UC system, has called for an overhaul of the service after receiving a regular flow of complaints from desperate constituents.
“The rollout of the digital, full universal credit is failing working parents and vulnerable people and the government is far too slow at tackling its flaws,” Brake said.
Brake’s comments, based on a catalogue of local cases investigated by his constituency office, is the latest in a string of reports highlighting glitches and flaws in the design and day-to-day operation of UC.
It emerged as the Institute for Government (IFG) thinktank reported that the UC project, which has limped from crisis to crisis and is six years behind schedule, has been “turned around from the brink of disaster”.
The report by IFG senior fellow Nick Timmins said that after being in crisis three years ago the programme was now heading in the right direction, and although it was still “a work in progress” it now “looks more likely to survive”.
However, it concluded that cuts to UC might undermine its original aim of helping more people get more and better paid work, and it may prove more expensive to run than the six benefits it replaces. “It is far too soon to tell whether universal credit will finally do the business,” it said.
UC has until earlier this summer been operating in only partial form, with most claimants being single individuals with straightforward claims. Since May, the so-called full service has started to expand and now includes couples and families with more complex claims.