Three years ago, almost exactly to the day, the National Audit Office reported that Universal Credit – the ambitious government project to simplify the welfare system by creating one single working-age benefit – was heading for nowhere but the rocks. 

But just three years later, IfG Senior Fellow and report author Nicholas Timmins looks at the failure and potential recovery of Universal Credit, arguing that the reforms are in a much better state and something that is recognisable as Universal Credit may well emerge at the other end.

Following interviews with some of the key players, and using National Audit Office reports and parliamentary proceedings, Timmins tries to explain what went wrong and what then went better, and seeks to draw lessons from both periods from which other big government projects can learn.