Can universal credit survive Westminster’s devolution promises?

The future of universal credit was already seriously in doubt. But its survival now looks even more improbable following Westminster’s promises to the Scottish people in the run up to yesterday’s independence vote.

In their white paper on independence, published last November, Holyrood promised the abolition of the bedroom tax and a halt to the rollout of universal credit and personal independence payment.

Clearly independence is no longer going to happen in the near future, but Westminster has promised Holyrood much greater independence in relation to welfare benefits. So, there remains a very strong possibility that universal credit will soon be brought to a halt in Scotland.

Even if that doesn’t happen, the fact that the tax and benefits systems in Scotland will soon begin to differ from those in the rest of the UK means that the currently non-existent IT for universal credit would soon have to become even more impossibly complex to cope with separate calculations for Scotland.

In addition, more devolution for Wales and Northern Ireland now seems to be on the agenda. If tax and benefits systems begin to evolve differently in all four countries in the UK then the possibility of the IT systems keeping pace with so many changes becomes ever less likely.

With so much uncertainty about the future, and with a paltry 11,000 people so far signed up to universal credit, yesterday’s vote may be the perfect excuse for the coalition to abandon this disastrous project.

Source – Benefits & Work, 19 Sept 2014

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2883-can-universal-credit-survive-westminster-s-devolution-promises

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