This piece in the Telegraph raises some interesting points. A lot of years ago, I worked on the pilot for Jobcentre plus. It was called ONE, and it attempted to bring together all the benefits, including housing benefit and council tax benefit.
The pilot was rolled out in Calderdale and Kirklees among other places, and there are many stories to tell. But the reason this article made me think of it, was that the key problem had actually been bringing together the local authority administered housing and council tax benefit, which by necessity were locally decided, with the benefits then administered by the Benefits Agency and Jobcentres. This meant that a pilot which stretched over two local authorities, had to bring them into line with nationally run benefit systems and deliver a coherent service. It was pretty much impossible and of all the parts of the pilot that went badly, this was probably the worst. Jobcentre plus did not attempt to do this and it was left behind, given up as a bad job.
The piece in the Telegraph raises the same question and it isn’t going to go away.
The Universal Credit system as it stands is likely to be another bollocks welfare punishment device. But Iain Duncan Smith has done something that needed to be done, he has brought all the benefits under one umbrella. This could have been done much easier in Beveridges day if he had just not made the sacrifice of married women, but that is another story. He has done this but the problem is not in centrally managed benefits fitting together, it is the fact that housing benefit and council tax benefit have to be administered locally and never fit with them.