Reposted from Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union people magazine
Making work or claimants pay?
Iain Duncan Smith claims that Universal Credit (UC), the governments new single benefit, is being rolled out successfully under budget. The reality, according to PCS members charged with its implementation and delivery, is that UC is in disarray, mired by a lack of staff, poor training and inadequate IT, which has wasted millions of tax payers money.
- 1 Million people were intended to be on UC by April 2014. By November, just 40,000 were in receipt of it, demonstrating the scale of the job involved in implementation. The Joseph Rowntree Trust warned “getting this kind of change wrong can result in hardship that can last for many years”
- 4 in 5 of PCS members working on UCsay that the training they have received to prepare them for the job has been less than adequete, according to a member survey.
- More than £300 million has been spent on IT systems that offer limited functionality and DO NOT support national roll out of UC, resulting in £34 million being written off, along with delay in implementation.
- 75% of functions currently requiring a human intervention will be digitalised by the new IT system, which the DWP designed at breakneck speed using off shored IT companies. PCS warns that not only could this lead to job losses but could also compromise claimant data.
- 90% of PCS members working on UC who responded to the survey, said the IT system used to deliver UC is less than adequate.
- 70% of those member believed that the staffing levels for UC delivery are less than adequete
- 2/3rds of PCS members working on UC are frequently asked to work overtime in order to implement the project
- More than 50% of PCS members said that they did not think UC was an improvement for claimants
- 40% of DWP staff administrating UC will be claimants themselves and will also be subject to the regime of conditionality and sanctions. This exposes the shockingly low pay of DWP staff, with 82% of them earning between £15,000 to £20,000 a year – but also reflects how employers (including government ones) have used tax credits to subsidise low rates of pay.
- 1st time claimants in work and receiving UC will be subject to an extended regime of conditions and sanctions, including being required to increase their hours and income until they are no longer eligible for the benefit.
- 1 payment a month, rather than weekly or fortnightly as most current benefits are paid, means that claimants will struggle to budget on low incomes, increasing the risk of hardship for many.