Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, said: “It is now reliably reported that contractors working on the Universal Credit IT have been instructed to down tools. There is a very serious problem, and we need the minister to come clean with us today about what is going on.
We always knew there was going to be a problem, and we warned the Secretary of State.
The department has denied it – I ask the Minister to put on the record today his response to those reports. I have no doubt they are accurate.
Will the Minister give a very simple yes or no answer. Have contractors at the five firms delivering the £500 million IT system been told to stop work on the project. Yes or No?
The Secretary of State claimed yesterday that “the implementation of universal credit ... is proceeding exactly in accordance with plans”. That is clearly untrue. The implementation of universal credit has already slipped drastically from the original plans. I do want to press the Minister on this.
Four times this morning the Prime Minister’s spokesman was asked to express confidence that Universal Credit would be delivered on time and on budget. Four times he refused to do so.
A DWP Spokesperson said: "It's categorically not true to say that work has stopped on Universal Credit. All of our suppliers are working with us to deliver Universal Credit from April."
David Pitchford has been tasked with ensuring the smooth delivery of the Universal Credit and has been speaking to key suppliers as part of this process.
Work on UC continues ahead of delivery in April and our plans for the October roll out have not changed, said the department.