Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has overseen the welfare reformReuters

The UK government has rolled out its flagship welfare reform to the north west of England as the Labour Party promises to "pause" the scheme if they get into power.

The controversial scheme - which was introduced by the coalition government to replace six existing benefits and tax credits, including Income Support and Housing Benefit, with a single monthly payment - has been rolled out to four more job centres.

"Universal Credit is already changing lives: we are seeing claimants spending more time looking for jobs and moving smoothly into employment safe in the knowledge that it will always pay more to be in work," said Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for work and pensions.

"The continued rollout of the Universal Credit means more people will benefit from this transformation of the welfare state."

In total 90 Jobcentres, or one in eight Jobcentres in Britain, will offer the service once the north west expansion has been completed.

According to official figures, more than 6,500 people have claimed Universal Credit, up until March.

In addition, ministers said more than 90% of people are making their claim online.

But the initiative, which is now available in 14 areas across England, Scotland and Wales, has come under fire from MPs.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee said the programme suffered from "alarmingly weak" management and argued that its implementation has been "extraordinarily poor".

The group of MPs also claimed that the miss-management of the project by Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions had led to the waste of £140m ($238m, €175m) of taxpayer's money.

Ed Miliband's Labour Party said it would "pause" the welfare reform if it wins the 2015 General Election.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, told the BBC that she supported Universal Credit, but argued the scheme had been in "chaos" under the Coalition Government and her party would attempt to "rescue" the scheme.