Rishi Sunak Says Technical Issues Prevented Him From Raising Benefits More | Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has claimed that he was unable to increase benefits in the spring statement due to the old computer system of the Ministry of Work and Pensions.

The UK chancellor admits technical difficulties “sound like an excuse”, the UK chancellor told Bloomberg he had spoken of a higher increase than the 3.1% given across the board but was told only one times a year could be an increase for those with some benefits.

Sunak highlighted the increase in the ‘national living wage’, the changes in the universal credit reduction rate and discretionary support from municipalities as measures taken by the government to help the lowest paid.

But the allegation of computer problems was labeled “pathetic” by Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pension secretary, while Angela Rayner, the Labor deputy leader, said the chancellor “insulted your intelligence”.

Many experts believe that increasing benefits would be the quickest and most effective way to help the lowest paid with the pressure on living standards due to inflation.

The government is under fire for increasing benefits by 3% while inflation is at 7% and is expected to reach 10% by the end of the year.

“The functioning of our social security system is technically complicated,” Sunak said. “It is not necessarily possible to [increase benefits] for everyone. Many of the systems are built so that it can only be done once a year, and the decision was made some time ago.”

He acknowledged blaming the technology “sounds like an excuse”, but insisted he was “somewhat constrained by the workings of the social security system”.

Ashworth highlighted the speed with which ministers acted to cancel out the £20 increase in universal credits given to people during the pandemic – the largest single cut in Social Security ever. “Too bad Sunak’s computer didn’t say no to that,” he added.

It was reported last month that the Chancellor had considered increasing distributions by more than 3.1%, but the Treasury was told “you could only do it once a year and this wasn’t the time of year you did it.” could do”.

The problem would be the outdated IT system that distributes some legacy benefits, such as the jobseeker benefit and the employment and support benefit.

Both are being phased out to be replaced by universal credit, but hundreds of thousands of people will remain on the old schemes, which use a roughly 40-year-old IT system.

Changes in past benefits apparently need to be enacted in the fall to kick in in the spring.

These are managed by paper-based systems and outdated, inflexible IT systems that take months to process changes, while universal credit updates can be done in a matter of weeks.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Parliament voted in 2012 to end the complex web of six legacy benefits and as this work nears its end in 2024, we will transition fully to a modern benefit, suitable for the 21st century.

“We recognize the pressures people are facing with the cost of living, which is why we are providing support worth £22 billion in the next financial year, including our household fund.

“Parliament voted in March 2022 to increase benefits in the usual way.”

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