Iain Duncan Smith, work and pensions secretary
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Iain Duncan Smith: Universal Credit reform 'on budget'

The work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has told the Today programme that the government's Universal Credit reform remains "on budget", despite a public accounts committee previously saying that £140 million had been wasted in trying to get the system up and running.

Universal Credit will merge six working-age benefits into a single payment, in a reform aimed at encouraging work incentives and reducing fraud.

Speaking to presenter James Naughtie, Mr Duncan Smith continued to explain that "by the end of 2017 the vast, vast majority of people [in the benefit system] will be on [Universal Credit]", with the exceptions being the estimated 700,000 people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

He explained that their plan has been for these 700,000 applications to be completed after the others as "they are actually going to take longer to do, because [the government has] got to be very careful that [applicants] don't have a work requirement".

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 9 December 2013.