Monday, November 17, 2008

New benefit being processed by hand

Public Finance magazine reported last week that:

Delivery of the new Employment and Support Allowance, which replaces Incapacity Benefit, will rely on manual processes and postal services for the first nine months because a new £295m computer system is not ready.

The delay comes despite assurances given in June by Lesley Strathie, then Jobcentre Plus chief executive, that the system would be ‘business ready’ for the ESA’s October launch.

Doubts have already been expressed on this blog and here about the way the new rules will be applied. Add the necessity for manual intervention by already over-stretched staff, and it becomes obvious that claimants are going to suffer.

The requirements for the new system have been known for years. The basic structure must surely be similar to other systems running in DWP. We trust that the relevant Select Committee will be asking searching questions as to the reason for yet another Labour government IT failure.
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