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Quora Answer : What is so wrong with the Tories' Universal Credit scheme?

Nov 21, 2019

It conflated several different things :

  • consolidate and rationalize the UK benefits bureaucracy. Which is fine.
  • try to save money. Which it may do, but you can't set targets or rush things. Any new IT system is likely to have expensive teething problems and you'll want to run it in parallel with the older system to ensure that bugs don't impact the people you're meant to be serving.
  • try to pressurize people who are needy to conform to Tory ideology. They dressed this up as "making work pay", but it really meant "making people who couldn't work suffer".
    In practice, this meant when you were pushed onto it, your money was late, you got penalized more, and you had the problems when it made mistakes.

If the Tories had simply focused on consolidating the IT systems, without trying to make it punish people. And without expecting the magical savings to kick in immediately, then it would have been relatively uncontroversial, and might even have started showing savings.

But ... being Tories ... they had ideological goals, and they wanted financial results NOW. And obviously, something had to give, somewhere. And the Tories were fine for that thing that had to give to be the quality of service the benefits system delivered to the people who needed it.

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