“When we visited the Bolton Jobcentre Plus [on 24 and 25 June], the IT system seemed clunky and cumbersome,” Begg said. Staff making appointments for UC applicants at the Bolton pilot scheme “had to write out some of the [jobseekers’] personal details, just to transfer them from one computer system to another.
That’s something that we would have expected to be ironed out.” The handwriting of jobseekers’ details “could lead to transposing errors”, she added.
Further, the Universal Credit IT system doesn’t allow jobseekers to save their data midway through an online application, Begg noted. She warned that this will penalise those who don’t own computers, who will have to remember to take all of their personal details in one batch to open access computers such as those at local libraries.
The Government Digital Service was last month called into DWP to help build an “enhanced IT system”, on the advice of David Pitchford of the Major Projects Authority.
Responding to Begg’s concerns, a DWP spokesperson said: “The IT supporting Universal Credit is working well and the vast majority of people are claiming online. Making a claim to Universal Credit in one session... helps ensure the security of a claimant’s information.”