Universal credit director steps down
Malcolm Whitehouse has left his key role as programme director of universal credit
Malcolm Whitehouse has left his role as programme director for universal credit at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He has been replaced by Hilary Reynolds, who was previously benefits director.
Whitehouse had been in charge of universal credit since its inception in July 2011 and has worked at the DWP for nine years.
In a written parliamentary answer the employment minister, Mark Hoban, said: "The universal credit programme is moving from designing and building the system to its safe delivery in operations.
"With this change of emphasis, Malcolm Whitehouse, who has brought the programme successfully to this key stage, with plans in place for the April pathfinder, will hand over his role as programme director to Hilary Reynolds on 5 November. Malcolm will work closely with Hilary to ensure a smooth transition".
According to a DWP spokesman, Whitehouse's next role has not been announced, but he is expected to stay within the department.
"The change of roles reflects the programme's transition from design to implementation," the spokesman said.
A meeting of the DWP's annual forum reported that a pathfinder will be launched in April 2013 with a six-month test of the system. This will lead into the launch in October. The aim is that by October 2017 claimants will have moved from legacy benefits onto universal credit'.
The spokesman added: "With the early roll out of universal credit starting in less than six months time, the programme is moving from system design to delivery. To reflect this, there have been some staff changes as we shift the focus onto implementation."
Earlier this week, Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee said she believed deliberations over universal credit were behind the delay in the publication of a report by the Major Projects Authority. Asked by Government Computing whether the MPA's long-awaited report would be published, Hodge said probably not.
"We had a session with Nick Macpherson, the permanent secretary at the Treasury, when we asked 'what's happening; is the Treasury trying to push back universal credit implementation?'" she said.
"I said 'is this true?' and there was about a minute's pause. I think he is bruised by the implementation of the tax credits system under the previous government."