The closure of new claims to UC Live Service and the slow down of the rollout of Full Service mean that there will be considerably more claims to Working Age Benefits, JSA, ESA and IS, over the early months of 2018 than originally planned by the DWP. The consequence is that more staff will now be required to deliver Working Age benefits than previously expected and less to deliver Universal Credit, at least in the short term.
PCS has demanded that a full explanation of how the Budget announcements affect staffing in DWP is provided in order that staffing levels are sufficient for all areas affected, particularly in light of the current unacceptably high stress levels experienced by many members.
Glasgow Buchanan and Nottingham Service Centres
Senior management have decided that approximately 150 staff from Glasgow Buchanan and Nottingham Service Centres will support JSA until the summer. This will be made up of about 100 staff from Glasgow and 50 staff from Nottingham. The reason these two sites were selected to provide the support is because, of the sites delivering UC Live Service, these two have staff with the most recent experience of delivering JSA.
The move to new work will take place on 8 January but will not be formal transfer into JSA and members will continue to remain managed by their current management teams.
Staff will be given one week’s training and one week to consolidate their training. PCS made it clear that we expected that people’s different training needs should be respected. PCS will keep the training under scrutiny to check if it is suitable to give our members the support they need to do this work. Also PCS has got the commitment from senior management that people with part time working patterns should not be forced into undertaking training full time if they find this difficult. The senior managers responsible for both Working Age Directorate and Universal Credit agreed that people’s working patterns should be taken into consideration when designing training for the support offered to JSA by the Glasgow and Nottingham sites.
PCS has argued that where possible management should seek volunteers to transfer to JSA. Any members with concerns about the moves should raise them with their local reps.
PCS believes that for these moves to work successfully it is vital that local consultation is effective. If members find that they are experiencing problems with part-time working patterns or other issues relating to the transfer then they should contact their local representatives who can escalate issues to national negotiaters if issues cannot be resolved locally
Impact on Jobcentre staff
The slow down of the rollout of UC Full Service and the closure of the Live Service gateway mean that there is likely to be a shortage of staff to deliver work coaching services to claimants in Jobcentres. The balance will have to be addressed. PCS has requested that multi-benefit working across both Working Age benefits and Universal Credit is avoided where possible.
Wider Impact of Budget announcements
As a result of the Budget decisions there will be other moves to address perceived imbalances in staffing across Working Age Directorate.
- In Walsall, those JSA New Claims Teams previously deployed in Walsall Service Centre, who currently process Budgeting Loans will return to JSA New Claims from 2nd January 2018. 40 FTE
- In Springburn teams that were delivering IS Enquiries and New Claims will move to Budgeting Loan telephony and began training on Monday 18th December. The training will take 5 days. This decision has been made in order to replace the teams in Walsall moving from Budgeting Loans. 35 FTE
- In Lowestoft teams that were delivering IS New Claims will move to JSA Enquiries and began training on Monday 18 December. This decision was made to support the increase in telephony calls anticipated to JSA. Training is anticipated to last up to 2 weeks. 27 FTE
- A further 100 staff will be deployed on the privatised Capita contract to deliver telephony work.
- Belfast staff due to move to UC from mid January will remain on JSA.
- Staff will be redeployed until the summer when management believe that JSA claims will have dropped sufficiently for staff to return to UC work.
PCS believe the Budget announcements will create more work for already hard pressed DWP staff and will continue to demand that there is further recruitment to address staffing shortages.