Rachel Reeves. Photo: Getty
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Rachel Reeves: Labour will "pause" Universal Credit if we win power

The shadow work and pensions minister says that Labour would not "throw good money after bad" on the troubled benefit.

Rachel Reeves says that Labour will reassess its commitment to Univeral Credit if it wins the next election.

She told the Sunday Times that the party will pause the project for three months, and call in the National Audit Office for a "warts and all" appraisal. 

"We’re not going to go in with a preconceived notion that we are going to proceed at any cost, which seems to be Iain Duncan Smith’s approach,” she added.
“This is his baby and he’s not going to abandon it, however bad things get.”

The scale and ambition of Universal Credit, which aims to roll together six working-age benefits, has always raised eyebrows across Whitehall. The project has been negatively assessed by the Major Projects Authority - under the aegis of Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office - and the Public Accounts Committee, led by Labour MP Margaret Hodge. There are tensions both between work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and his department's permanent secretary, Robert Devereux, and between the department and George Osborne's Treasury over the failures of the scheme. 

Hodge told the New Statesman in April: "The DWP seems to have embarked on this crucial project, expected to cost the taxpayer some £2.4 billion, with little idea as to how it was actually going to work.

“Confusion and poor management at the highest levels have already resulted in delays and at least £34m wasted on developing IT. If the department doesn’t get its act together, we could be on course for yet another catastrophic government IT failure.”

 

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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