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The battle of Whitehall

Welfare reforms are at the centre of a deep rift between politicians and civil servants

By Rachel Sylvester   October 2013

It’s the government’s flagship welfare reform, designed to streamline the benefits system while encouraging people back to work. And yet universal credit, championed by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is mired in controversy and confusion. Already its introduction has been delayed—the planned national launch this spring was downgraded to a pilot and there is speculation that it may not meet its new deadline of 2017. Last week, the National Audit Office claimed that the setbacks to the £2.4bn project, which merges six benefits and tax credits into a single payment, have already cost the taxpayer £34m.

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