DWP staff to strike again over ‘intolerable’ Universal Credit workloads
Workers set for two-day walkout as departmental managers are accused of dragging feet on recruitment
Amber Rudd is the sixth secretary of state to oversee the rollout of Universal Credit since it was launched by Iain Duncan Smtith Credit: PA
Department for Work and Pensions staff are to stage a two-day strike in protest at “intolerable workloads” and “insufficient recruitment” connected with the administration of controversial new benefit Universal Credit.
The action follows a ballot of staff working at Universal Credit centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton, where more than 90% of the 274 PCS members balloted voted to walk out.
It is the second stoppage in an ongoing dispute with management that has seen the civil service’s biggest union demanding the recruitment of more staff, permanent contracts for fixed-term staff and a decrease in workloads. Two days of strike action were held by workers at the West Midlands centres in March.
- DWP ‘yet to prove it is up to the job of Universal Credit rollout’
- DWP announces trial site for Universal Credit managed migration pilot
- DWP admits Universal Credit rollout may have led to rise in food bank use
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said frustration and exasperation among staff administering the six-into-one benefit, originally created by former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, came as evidence mounted that claimants were being left in poverty by Universal Credit’s rollout.
“Instead of trying to solve this ongoing dispute over workloads and recruitment, ministers are spending thousands on a propaganda campaign to promote a failed Universal Credit system,” he said.
“It is shameful that the minds of minsters are not focused on claimants or staff but instead on covering up for their own abject failures.
“This strike will send a message that we as a union will not stand idly by while our members are treated with contempt and ministers run Universal Credit into the ground.”
Nationally, PCS is calling for 5,000 new staff, permanency for fixed-term staff and a limit to the number of phone calls each Universal Credit case manager has to deal with.
It also wants a limit to the size of DWP’s national telephony hub and better consultation with the union over changes to the existing office network.
A DWP spokesperson said the the department was “disappointed” that the PCS members in Walsall and Wolverhampton had decided to take strike action.
“Planned meetings with the union are ongoing and our priority is ensuring there is no disruption to our customers,” they said.
“Our frontline staff deliver vital support to around 20m people across the country and we are committed to supporting them in their roles, including by monitoring staff levels and making sure their caseloads are manageable.”
The walkout at the Walsall and Wolverhampton Universal Credit centres is due to take place on May 28 and 29.
PCS says contractors' use of agency staff to cover industrial action may have broken the law
Plan goes beyond Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 review recommendations following west London tragedy...
Troubled background-checking agency appoints local authority boss to top job
Commission chaired by former civil service head blasts government’s approach to economic...
One in four workers in the UK has financial worries. In this article, Elaine Jefferys, Money...
Microsoft shows a few of the ways that governments can turn data into insight
PA Consulting offers a four-point plan to delivering organisational transformation
BT takes a look at the shifting nature of cyber threats, and how organisations can detect and...