‘The computer says no’: Sunak accuses computer systems of not increasing benefits

May 13, 2022, 11:02 p.m. | Updated: May 13, 2022, 11:08 PM

Rishi Sunak blamed old computer systems for not increasing benefits.

Photo: Aliyah


Chancellor Rishi Sunak blamed old IT systems for not increasing benefits further when declaring the spring.

Mr Sunak explained that he had discussed a higher increase than the 3.1% indicated, but was told that there could only be a once-a-year increase for those on certain services.

He acknowledged his response ‘sounded like an apology’ but insisted he had been ‘somewhat constrained by the way the welfare system works’.

“The way our welfare system works is technically complicated,” Sunak told Bloomberg.

“It is not necessarily possible to [increase benefits] for everyone.

“A lot of systems are built so it can only be done once a year, and the decision was made a while ago.”

Asked about the furlough scheme, which was developed in a matter of weeks, Mr Sunak said: “The welfare system works in a very different way and somewhat limited by the way the welfare system works, it cannot so not be made for everyone in this But we always support people.

“So, for example, we have significantly strengthened the incentives to work, the rewards for work with the rate of degression of the national living wage and universal credit for example.

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The Chancellor has since faced a backlash over the comment, with Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth calling it ‘pathetic’.

He said: “During negotiations over the initial lockdown legislation, we and @The_TUC pushed for increased help through Universal Credit. We won that increase.

“Ministers then withdrew £20 – the biggest social security cut ever.

“Too bad Sunak’s computer didn’t say no to that.”

Meanwhile, deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner said he was “insulting your intelligence”.

A government spokesman said: ‘Since 1987 we have consistently used the September inflation figure to make the decision to increase benefits, including in cases where benefits are increased beyond the rate inflation when the rise occurs, as happened in 2012, 2015 and 2020.

“However, we recognize the pressures on the cost of living and are taking targeted action to help, including spending £22billion over the next financial year to support people with lower energy bills and lower fuel taxes. fuel.

“For the hardest hit, we’re putting an extra £1,000 a year on average into the pockets of working families on Universal Credit, we’ve also raised the minimum wage by over £1,000 a year for part-time workers full and our support for households.The fund is there to help you cover the cost of basic necessities.

“Universal Credit is a dynamic system that adjusts as people earn more or less, and simplifies our safety net for those who cannot work.

“The six benefits it replaces all have complex and inefficient paper-based systems that are further slowed down by aging and inflexible IT, taking months to process changes Universal Credit could make in weeks.”