Aug 21 2013
Labour is to blame "chaos" at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for extra bills of £1.4 billion to the taxpayer.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne will highlight low take-up rates for youth contracts, the costs of implementing universal credit, problems in the delivery of work capability assessments by contractor Atos and rising fraud in a speech to mentoring charity Chance UK.
Additional costs in implementing the so-called bedroom tax and the work programme will also be targeted by the former Treasury minister, who claims the bills will be run up over the course of the current five-year Parliament.
Mr Byrne will lay the blame at the door of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in a personal attack, claiming his Cabinet colleagues have made clear there are problems at the DWP.
Mr Byrne is expected to say: "We need DWP back on track. It was this time last year that things started to go seriously wrong for Iain Duncan Smith. When people started to look at his record, as well as his boasts. Rumours began to swirl around Whitehall that senior ministers were not happy with his performance.
"Cabinet colleagues started to wonder out loud whether his big projects were heading for disaster. In the spending review George Osborne kept up the theme. He singled out the raft of failing programmes at DWP not in private but on the floor of the House of Commons."
In his speech, Mr Byrne is expected to say the biggest cost will come from extra job seeker allowance claims because of low take-up of the youth contract - insisting that on current trends targets will be missed by 92%, costing £457 million. Labour said the figure was reached by estimating almost 148,000 more young people would be on the dole in April 2015 than if all the youth contract wage incentives had been taken up.
Mr Byrne will also claim implementing universal credit will cost £300 million, failures by Atos will cost £287 million, the work programme is costing £140 million and putting in place the bedroom tax will cost £102.5 million. The former chief secretary estimates £140 million was wasted between 2010 and 2012 because of rising fraud and error.
He is expected to say: "Labour will bring Social Security spending under control by tackling the long-term drivers of spending. The first thing we are going to have to do is put out the fires currently spreading through Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions. We need to tackle these delivery problems head-on before they eat up even more public money. Because three years into this Government, their promised welfare revolution has collapsed because of a failure in basic delivery."
Calling for urgent action, Mr Byrne will claim universal credit is a good idea being badly implemented and is expected to call for cross-party talks with civil servants to iron out the problems. Atos should be given a short deadline of just weeks to stop failing in delivery of work capability assessments or face being stripped of its Government contract. Mr Byrne will repeat Labour's call for a bankers' bonus tax to fund a jobs guarantee for young people.