Nearly half of DWP staff are benefit dependents to make ends meet

24th October 2019 / United Kingdom
Nearly half of DWP staff are benefit dependents to make ends meet

By TruePublica: About half the British population are now dependent on some sort of welfare to keep afloat. Rampant out-of-control financialisation of everything from the roof over our heads to further education – the neoliberal model is strangling the life out of ordinary people’s lives. Ironically, it is no different for those employed by a government department designed to curtail benefits for those most in need – namely the DWP itself.


Nearly half of the staff working for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in helping claimants with their benefits claims are themselves dependent of some form of benefit to make ends meet, it has been revealed.

This latest revelation came from a meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC), where the new Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was asked how many DWP staff are currently claiming Universal Credit themselves. Whilst Coffey did not know the answer – the SNP Committee member Chris Stephens revealed evidence obtained through third-party Freedom of Information requests, showed that ‘at least 40% of DWP staff are claiming benefits to top-up low wages‘.

The Committee Chair Frank Field MP described as a “scandal”

There is actually over 40% of people employed by the department who are claiming some sort of benefit to bring their income up to an acceptable standard.

“What does that say about a Government department whose purpose is to alleviate poverty, that almost half of the staff – and certainly over 40% of the staff – are living in some sort of poverty themselves?”

In the meantime, as far back as 2015 it was revealed that £124.37 million in bonuses went to senior civil servants – which represented 90% of the entire bonus pot for the whole DWP. New figures published in April this year by the Work and Pensions Committee show the “wholly unacceptable” costs of “serially botched” administration of ESA payments to disabled people – leading towards yet another billion-pound scandal.

Rewarding failure on this scale is unacceptable especially as only this week, the government has been accused of causing “chaos” after it vastly overestimated the number of benefit refunds to sick and disabled people.

A blunder dating back to 2011 meant thousands of claimants were awarded too little ESA – worth up to £111.65 a week – when they moved over from old-style incapacity benefit. Since 2017, the DWP has been working through 600,000 cases to check who was short-changed – and given back payments worth an average of £6,000. From that investigation – the DWP estimates 120,000 people will get back payments worth a lower total of £610m.

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Approximately 1,100 people were specifically tasked at the DWP to trawl through the cases and then help towards processing back payments.



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