PCS is clear that staffing is at crisis point in DWP.
For the financial year ending in March 2018, DWP had a business case approved by Treasury to recruit 8,200 staff. However, they only managed to actually recruit fewer than 5,900. With natural wastage the overall number of staff in DWP went down slightly during the year.
PCS today met with the business lead for staffing resources in DWP operations. The department’s resource allocation model suggests that DWP operations is currently in a position of being nearly 5,000 overstaffed. By the department’s own calculations more than 4,000 people are expected to leave the department in the next 12 months.
Understaffed and overworked
The GEC is consistently told by our reps and members that across all the operational arms of DWP members are under significant pressure due to high workloads, and that there are insufficient staff in huge swathes of the department.
PCS negotiators made it clear to Management that the numbers described in their staffing model bear no resemblance to the experience of our members on the ground, and that unless action is taken to improve the situation that there is a very real risk the DWP’s ability to deliver a decent service to the public in the vitally important roles our members undertake.
Well-being survey results
The results of the Wellbeing survey show that 54% of DWP staff have suffered from work-related stress during the last 12 months and only 55% of staff believe that they have an acceptable workload. This has contributed to only 36% of staff having felt happy in work in the past week (of the survey).
PCS believe that this is hard evidence which shows that our members are seriously overworked, suffering from work related stress and unhappy with their experience of working in DWP.
Fixed-Term Appointment members (FTA)
The DWP currently has approximately 1,500 FTA staff. PCS has consistently campaigned for all of these to be made permanent and while the department have not yet agreed to this, due to the pressure from PCS, extensions to the contracts of many of these FTAs are now being considered. PCS will continue to fight for these members to be made permanent.
The department has told PCS that it does not intend to undertake any permanent recruitment in the current operational year with the exception of some specialist roles. PCS remains concerned about the effect this will have on the ability to recruit and retain staff in vital parts of the business.
GEC negotiators raised particular concerns about there being no planned recruitment into Universal Credit and jobcentres in this operational year despite UC representing the most significant change to the benefit system in a generation. It was made clear by us that such a huge change in the Welfare system had no prospect of being delivered without significant investment by the department.
PCS urgently calling for more staff
PCS are calling for the DWP to urgently recruit more permanent staff across operations to address the problems our members are experiencing on a daily basis which are hampering their efforts to deliver a decent service to the public.
Members are encouraged to provide examples of where staffing shortages are causing problems to Leeds@pcs.org.uk