With Iain Duncan Smith touring the Potemkin Village jobcentres actually delivering Universal Credit last week, DWP spinners may regret inviting the local press — after a member of staff told the work and pensions secretary to his face that his flagship initiative was hamstrung by “regular glitches” and “poor communication” from officials.
The trip went off-message on a visit to Nelson jobcentre in East Lancashire, described by IDS as ‘small but perfectly formed’ — a poignant description given the difficulties in scaling the new benefit when you’ve been forced to write off at least £140 million of IT.
The North West embarrassment comes after an internal DWP memo entitled “Ideas please: Sinking” was leaked to Channel 4 Dispatches amid reports that backlogs were growing at the handful of centres operating the scheme.
And to top it off, he turned up 70 minutes late. But at least he had an excuse to hand:
“Arbitrary dates and deadlines are the enemy of secure delivery.”