Union ‘forces hiring drive’ at Department for Work and Pensions
PCS says strike threat prompted creation of dozens of new Universal Credit-related jobs
The civil service’s biggest union has claimed responsibility for a hiring drive that is expected to create 56 new Department for Work and Pensions roles in Derby related to Universal Credit.
PCS said members at the city’s Universal Credit service centre were angry about high workloads that made it impossible for them to provide a high quality service for customers, and that a meeting in August had underscored the willingness of staff to strike over the issue.
Staff at Universal Credit centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton staged strike action earlier this year in a bid to end what they described as “intolerable” workloads related to the administration of the long-running six-into-one benefit reform.
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PCS said that a meeting with management in Derby last month had resulted in proposals to recruit 40 additional Universal Credit staff on one-year contracts, but that the number had been negotiated up to 56.
PCS said that the jobs had now been advertised and appointments were due to be made towards the end of this month. It added that it was hoped the roles could become permanent after the initial fixed terms expired.
Last month, the Labour party floated proposals to scrap Universal Credit and introduce machinery of government changes that would reconfigure the DWP, if it won power at the next general election.
In a speech made in former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s Chingford and Woodford Green constituency, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Universal Credit had been an “unmitigated disaster”.
Originally expected to be fully implemented by 2017, the Universal Credit programme has been subject to multiple resets since first being taken forward by Duncan Smith in the 2012 Welfare Reform Act. It is currently expected to be fully implemented by 2023.
Current work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey is the sixth holder of the role since Duncan Smith resigned in March 2016, saying cuts to personal independence payments for disabled people were “a compromise too far”.
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