It is right to proceed cautiously with Universal Credit, but why not with other welfare reforms?

Universal Credit has been in the news again.  Whenever the issues of why its been so delayed is raised we are told that it is the right thing to pilot it, sort out any teething issues, rather than just going full steam ahead, potentially causing utter chaos and distress to people if it does go wrong. I understand that. I welcome that. In fact I applaud that.

So WHY wasn’t the same approach given to ESA WCA (Employment and Support Allowance; Work Capability Assessments) and the introduction of PIP?

Over half a million WCA’s are going through Mandatory Reconsideration, and we already know that over half of these are upheld in the claimants favour. We then have the issue of PIP (Personal Independence Payment). It’s not weeks to wait for PIP to be processed, its months, not just one or two months but until recently it was 11-12 MONTHS. I understand from colleagues that this is down to around 10 to 11 months….

These benefits are there to support the most vulnerable, the sick and the disabled. Why did they not deserve the same consideration as Universal Credit has been given. Starting slowly, ironing out glitches, making sure staff are trained and that there are enough staff to process these claim with curtesy and dignity.

Hundreds of thousands of people are going through the utter distress of incorrect decisions, after months of waiting for the decision in the first place. Now we here that Maximus, the company taking over from ATOS, are planning to get through 111,000 WCA’s a month. That’s not taking a slow, steady, considered approach in my eyes. That’s a full steam ahead approach. It will be fine if they get the original decisions right, but experience of ATOS suggests otherwise. It is a shame that they don’t get paid according to their performance ….

As I’ve written here before, I want politicians to promise less and to get the basics right.


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