Criticism of “shambles” created by benefits changes

Angus M.P. Mike Weir.
Angus M.P. Mike Weir.

Local MP Mike Weir has lambasted the “shambles” created by recent benefit changes brought in by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Mr Weir said that, with the roll-out of Universal Credit years behind schedule and substantially over budget, it is still unclear if and when full implementation of the policy will occur.

He also pointed out that problems introducing a computer system to manage the policy saw £40 million spent on software completely written off and a further £90 million spent on IT that will only be of use for five years.

Earlier this year Iain Duncan Smith was forced to intervene to stop Universal Credit being placed on a register of major public risks with a ‘red rating’ showing the policy was unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget. The introduction of Personal Independence Payments was, meanwhile, described as a “fiasco” by the influential Public Accounts Committee at Westminster.

Mr Weir said: “The DWP has serious questions to answer over its poor performance in recent years and the way in which it has completely mismanaged the implementation of Universal Credit. But those failings do not disguise the fact that they are trying to implement a poorly designed, punitive policy which has been shown to be unworkable.

“The whole package of these welfare cuts has been a disaster from start to finish and has served only to waste money and punish the least well-off in society. From the introduction of the Bedroom Tax to the delayed roll-out of Universal Credit, we have seen nothing but failure with all too many people paying a heavy price for Westminster’s cuts agenda. As a result, 100,000 more children in Scotland face poverty and food bank use has rocketed by 400 per cent in the last year.

“This sorry fiasco has once again underlined why Westminster cannot be trusted to get it right when it comes to making decisions over welfare. We need the opportunity to make our own decisions in Scotland.