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.
PCS said 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.
Recruitment for the 56 case manager administrative office roles is now open, with applications closing on 22 October. In a job advert, DWP said it was seeking people "people who are customer focused, with the right skills, commitment and capability to deliver an exceptional public service" and a "genuine dedication to a public service department".
The jobs are being advertised as fixed-term posts lasting up to 12 months, but PCS said it hoped they could become permanent.
Last month, the Labour Party said it planned to scrap Universal Credit and reconfigure DWP if it were to win 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 the welfare reform 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 now 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”.