DWP creates new DG role for Universal Credit

Perm sec makes work services director Susan Park accountable for payments system’s operation across Jobcentres and service centres

By Jim Dunton

16 Feb 2017

The Department for Work and Pensions has created a new director general role with responsibility for the operation of Universal Credit across the nation’s Jobcentres and in back-office service centres.

Permanent secretary Sir Robert Devereaux said Susan Park – DWP’s director of work service for the past two years – would take up the new director general for Universal Credit operations role.

The post is additional to that of Neil Couling, who is director general for the Universal Credit programme, and who DWP said “continues to lead the overall programme”.

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The new benefit system was the brainchild for former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, and combines a handful of unemployment and low-income benefits into a single payment.

At one stage full adoption of the new system was envisaged by 2015, but service-specification changes and a lack of clarity on IT requirements delayed progress. The government's most recent estimate expected full implementation by March 2022.

DWP said this week that 450,000 claimants now received their benefits via the system and its "full service" was available in 46 Jobcentre areas.

From October this year the full service, which covers all types of claimants and can be managed online, is due to be made available in 50 additional Jobcentres every month. 

In other areas, a version of Universal Credit called the "live service" is available to single people, but is managed over the phone rather than online.

Announcing the new DG role, Devereux said Park was “an extremely talented public servant” who was “uniquely placed to led the scaled up roll out of Universal Credit Full Service” from this autumn.

Park joined the civil service in the 1980s and has worked for DWP since 2001. She was director of the Child Maintenance Group before taking up post as director of work services in January 2015.

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