The Department for Work and Pensions needs to revise its 'agile' approach to developing ICT systems for universal credit – a scheme that hopes to introduce online services to streamline the benefits system – in order to avoid additional costs, the Local Government Association has said.
In written evidence to Parliament’s work and pensions committee, LGA said that the current approach is “not grounded in reality” and if not revised, the DWP and councils will face extra costs.
The agile approach being referred to means splitting up complex problems into smaller components which can be worked on by individually testing elements, using feedback and learning from mistakes and including users within the development process to ensure the ensure the result meets their needs.
However, according to a spokesman for the DW, this approach to building universal credit is “successful”.
“It is being tested with claimants and will be delivered on time and on budget,” he said.
The LGA also said that councils are concerned about the fact that not everyone is IT literate. They also want to know whether different language formats will be available for claimants and whether the IT suppliers will be able to update their systems in time to enable the administration of new localised council tax support schemes.
The LGA is one of 70 organisations involved in the benefits system to have raised concerns about the implementation of universal credit with the committee.