Universal Credit: Department For Work And Pensions Slammed For 'Culture Of Denial' Over Failings In New Benefit System

The introduction of Universal Credit is causing “unacceptable hardship and difficulties” for many of the people it was designed to help, a damning new report by a select committee of MPs has found.

The influential Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises public spending, has criticised the implementation of the flagship benefits reform programme – saying the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has developed a “culture of denial” over Universal Credit’s failings.

The cross-party committee also accused the DWP of being “disturbingly adrift of the real-world problems” as it called for urgent action in next week’s budget to offer relief to people who are currently suffering under the system. 

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Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee

Public Accounts Committee chair, Labour MP Meg Hillier, said: “This report provides further damning evidence of a culture of indifference at DWP – a department disturbingly adrift from the real-world problems of the people it is there to support.

“Its apparent determination to turn a deaf ear to the concerns of claimants, frontline organisations and Parliament is of real concern. The culture needs to change.”

The report set outs the conclusions of an inquiry into the ongoing roll out of Universal Credit. It found the DWP was responsive to feedback from its staff through its digital systems. But the report said the department has “persistently dismissed” evidence of hardship presented by people claiming the benefit and accuses it of “refusing to measure what it does not want to see”.

In other scathing findings, the report says:

  • The DWP’s systemic culture of denial and defensiveness in the face of any adverse evidence presented by others is a significant risk to the programme.
  • Universal Credit causes financial hardship for claimants including increased debt and rent arrears, and forces people to…

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