Helping hands: Peter Schofield on a year of delivering for people in need

The Department for Work and Pensions perm sec tells CSW of his pride in the professionalism and commitment of staff
Cost of Living

By Civil Service World

20 Dec 2022

 

What has been your highlight of the last 12 months?  

Like millions of others across the UK and beyond, I, and many colleagues were deeply affected by the sad news of Her Late Majesty’s passing. While it wasn’t so much a “highlight”, attending her funeral was a huge honour for me. I was touched to read so many moving comments from colleagues in our condolence book, with many sharing experiences of meeting the Queen, or just what she meant to them.  

During the period of national mourning, we had a job to do in DWP. We quickly stood up a team to make millions of advance payments ahead of the short-notice bank holiday and many DWP colleagues volunteered to support stewarding around London. I was proud of the commitment and professionalism of DWP colleagues.  

What was your most difficult decision in 2022? 

This year has seen important work across government and within departments on how we can help and protect the most vulnerable. I am proud of the work the department has done to deliver some of this help and the work we will be doing going forward, seen most recently in the Autumn Statement, on benefits uprating, the triple-lock and delivering billions of pounds of cost-of-living support. 

What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation in 2023, and how are you preparing to meet that challenge as an organisation?  

We are here to help the most vulnerable in society and the work we do is crucial to our customers and the country.  

This year we’ve played our essential role in making a significant positive impact on people’s lives at a time when they need it most. Delivering through Way to Work, encouraging more people to access Pension Credit support, and quickly turning around billions of pounds’ worth of cost-of-living payments are just some examples of where we’ve made a difference. 

“My challenge is to make time to listen to people, and to be available for colleagues to share their experience so we can do what we can to support them” 

But there’s more to do. We will remain focused on our mission to improve people’s quality of life both now and in the future, support people to become financially resilient by moving into and progress in decent jobs while providing a safety net for those who cannot work. We’ll do this by continuing to build better joined-up modern services tailored to customer needs and relentlessly focusing on the difference we make to customers’ lives, supported by data.  

And personally, as a leader? 

The demands on the department to support the wider economy and the millions who rely on our services have never been higher. The coming year will be a big challenge for me and my entire leadership team as we support colleagues and customers. My challenge is to make time to listen to people, and to be available for colleagues to share their experience so we can do what we can to support them. 

It's not only Santa who has to work at Christmas. What is your best, worst or weirdest experience of working in the festive season? 

Many years ago, my kids gave me a Santa tie, which I have worn to work in the last few days running up to Christmas each year. Sadly the sound box has broken now, so you can’t hear “Ho, ho, ho” booming across the office!   

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