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Old IT system reportedly blocked extra rise in state benefits


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Rishi Sunak
Image source: Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0

Problems with old IT systems have stood in the way of the UK Government raising benefits to help people in the face of the inflationary crisis, according to press reports.

According to a story in The Times (paywall), Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (pictured) spoke with officials of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about changes in jobseekers’ allowance and employment and support allowance to provide relief to people on low incomes.

But he was told that these are administered through old IT systems that have been in place since the 1980s and are only able to change the payments at the beginning of the financial year.

This would have affected hundreds of thousands of people still on the legacy benefits rather than having moved to universal credit – which is run on a more up-to-date system – and stood in the way of raising benefits, despite the surge in inflation.

The Times says a DWP spokesperson did not deny the story and emphasised the transition to universal credit.

At this time last year, the department’s digital chief Simon McKinnon outlined its priorities, including maximising the performance and stability of its digital services. Part of this is in managing technical debt with planned refresh cybers, evergreen upgrade approaches and the increasing use of cloud services.

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