The government has spent £638m on universal credit IT to date, with £441m going on design and development, the minister for employment Mark Hoban revealed in answer to a Parliamentary question.
A breakdown of the IT investment costs since the spending review in October 2010 revealed £51m had gone on software, £14m on changes to dependent systems, £52m on infrastructure and £80m on other IT-related areas.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had claimed that the IT underpinning the scheme had been heavily based on existing software. A spokesman from the DWP recently told Computer Weekly the programme is not a single IT system, but is being built part-by-part on an agile basis, as well as bringing in existing systems.
The DWP has hit back at criticism that the universal credit IT systems are not ready, following claims from Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne of widespread unease about the £2bn scheme’s IT system.
The Local Government Association submitted written evidence to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, slamming the approach to IT behind universal credit as “not grounded in reality”.
But MPs were told in a recent select committee hearing that cyber security would be the biggest challenge to the roll-out of universal credit. Pensions minister Ian Duncan Smith said government had consulted with Amazon about the system's security.
The first part of universal credit is due to go live next year, with all working-age claimants expected to be moved onto the system by October 2017.