Will Universal Credit ever become universal and will the lowest paid still face an effective tax rate of a sometimes outrageous 76 per cent? Iain Duncan Smith took a grilling over his plans for welfare reform on the Sunday Politics today, but didn’t give a clear answer to either of these questions regarding his reforms.
Firstly, on the progress of implementing Universal Credit, the Work and Pensions Secretary claimed that ‘Universal Credit is already rolling out and the IT is working’, despite just 6,000 people currently on the ‘Pathfinder’ stage. In his initial plans, a million people claiming six existing working-age benefits were due to be on the Pathfinder stage by April 2014. IDS said it was his decision to slow down the roll out:
‘I changed the way we rolled it out over a year and a half ago. There was a reason for that. Under the advice from someone from the outside, he said you’re better off Pathfinding this out, make sure you learn the lessons, roll it out slower and gain momentum later on.'