The next meeting with Universal Credit national operational and programme managers is set for September, but elected officers of the group executive committee (GEC) have been working with sites to identify issues.
Staffing – more FTAs converted to permanency
As of 22 August, fixed term staff at five UC service centres (Basildon, Bolton, Dundee, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton) will be informed that they are being offered permanency by the Department. The GEC welcomes this, as it provides certainty for our members on fixed term contracts and reduces the number who will be forced to leave DWP in areas like UC, where we are in need of staff and have plenty of evidence to prove this. We continue to be clear, however, that recruitment of additional UC staff is a pressing need for DWP.
Assumed Consent and the August Bank Holiday
We have been made aware of poor communications that have gone out in a number of areas across UC relating to the bank holiday. An example is included as an appendix to this bulletin. All branches should be very well aware that assumed consent cannot be withdrawn locally, and no discussions have taken place with UC operational managers to agree any withdrawal of assumed consent. Assumed consent will operate normally during the bank holiday (27 August). Any examples of problems with this should be escalated urgently to the GEC.
All members are encouraged to discuss with their team leaders where there are particular operational pressures. Doing what we can to help out our team is second nature to all of our staff, especially at times where we know annual leave requests are likely to be high. But the use of assumed consent cannot be unilaterally denied.
We are aware that St. Austell site managers have attempted to introduce an annual leave process that allows team leaders to refuse leave based on team staffing levels, rather than based on site staffing levels. This is inappropriate and is being challenged by local reps – if any other sites are aware of similar things, please challenge it with site managers in the first instance and, if it remains unresolved, escalate as a matter of urgency to the GEC. Please attach relevant site correspondence
A number of sites continue to report stresses relating to telephony despite the roll out of Integrated Telephony across UC Full Service. Meanwhile Live Service staff continue to report unsustainable numbers of telephone calls, which, they feel, are not being fixed by overtime. We have relayed a series of concerns about telephony to UC management across July and August and have asked for an ad hoc meeting to discuss telephony, but this request has not been answered as yet.
We’re particularly aware of complaints being raised by telephony staff and by team leaders and DMOs at Makerfield and Glasgow, where EO grade staff have been asked to “take a call, set a task” without being trained on CAM. This misuse of resource has been raised with UC management.
The following is a message from UC “Service Assurance and Response Team” to Team Leaders that is being taken as suspending assumed consent.
Live Service Telephony
We will continue to strike a balance between payments and telephony, releasing account developers and specialist teams from telephony schedules throughout the day where we can. We need team leaders to continue to take the following actions:
- Ensure that schedules are covered and only make schedule exceptions where there are no other options.
- Understand the team members that are due to undertake a telephony slot throughout the working day and make sure they are logged in and available at the beginning of their slot and remain so until it ends.
- Monitor behaviour to ensure all team members optimise their time during their telephony rota slot.