Delays won’t stop Universal Credit’s ‘cultural change’ – to dishonesty, lies and threats

Sinking Shiplee: Howard Shiplee is the man who has been hired to spread the DWP culture of dishonesty and maladministration across all the major British social security benefits.

Sinking Shiplee: Howard Shiplee is the man who has been hired to spread the DWP culture of dishonesty and maladministration across all the major British social security benefits.

You know a Tory policy is in serious trouble when the Daily Telegraph starts publishing articles criticising it.

Today, Universal Credit is on the Telegraph‘s naughty step – not for the first time! – with current ‘director general’ Howard Shiplee (my word, they love making up impressive names for themselves, don’t they?) admitting it has been “plagued by problems”, as the newspaper’s headline puts it.

These include:

  • Technical problems in the merging of benefit office, HMRC and council IT systems
  • Bureaucratic problems
  • Scheduling problems as the scheme’s timetable has slipped further and further back
  • Personnel problems, with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Failure Smith claiming official let him down, forcing him to employ private sector experts to get the scheme back on track (but it still isn’t)
  • Poor project management, including poor management of suppliers
  • Lack of transparency, with too much attention focused on what was working and not enough on what wasn’t

The plan was to roll out Universal Credit for all new claimants from October onwards, but this has been scaled back to just six Job Centres. It began in a single Job Centre in April, where calculations have been worked out on paper.

Ministers say the final deadline, to introduce the system for all claimants by 2017, will be met – but it seems increasingly likely that – if Labour wins the 2015 election – the whole plan will be consigned to the political scrapyard where, in this writer’s opinion, it belongs.

But Mr Shiplee said he was working on introducing the “cultural” elements of the proposed scheme while awaiting the development of a new IT system, and you need to know what that means.

It means spreading the culture of dishonesty, that has been bred and nurtured in the DWP’s handling of ESA, to the five other benefits that are to be merged into UC.

They are: Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, tax credits (child and working), housing benefit and budgeting loans.

“This is about changing the way we do business – and changing people’s behaviour by ensuring there is always an incentive to be in work,” said Shiplee. Meaning: We will lie when assessing your claims; we will intentionally mishandle your claim to make it appear that you do not deserve benefit and we will maladminister any appeals; if you do receive benefit, we will harass you to take part in our silly made-up programmes when you could be doing better things; if we find a way to cut you off, or you give up in despair, we will claim that as a positive benefit outcome; and if you suffer hardship, destitution or health problems up to and including death as a result, we will not record them because we can claim it is nothing to do with us.

That is my experience of the DWP, based on Mrs Mike’s experience with ESA.

You’ll be aware that she currently has an appeal against being put into the work-related activity group, based on medical evidence and the expert opinion of a work programme provider. The current word from the DWP is that she must undergo another work capability assessment.

The reason given is that she has claimed her health has deteriorated since her original assessment in 2012 but this is nonsense.

Her appeal was made against the original decision – based on that 2012 assessment. Another WCA won’t have any bearing on that.

Instead, the matter should have gone to a tribunal, as the DWP’s own decision maker failed to make a decision when the case was considered, in April.

That hearing could have taken place by now; instead the DWP has sat on its thumbs and done nothing, waiting for the time-limited claim to come to an end in order to claim – yes – a ‘positive benefit outcome’.

There was no communication with the claimant and therefore there was no way for Mrs Mike to know what was happening until she discovered her benefit had been stopped, a couple of weeks ago.

Now imagine that situation magnified to include not only every ESA claimant, but the many millions of UK citizens who claim all the other main benefits. What do you think will happen when this “cultural” change is applied to them?


Do you claim any benefits? Do you know somebody who does?

If so, you’d better do something about it, before it’s too late.

17 thoughts on “Delays won’t stop Universal Credit’s ‘cultural change’ – to dishonesty, lies and threats

  1. David Santamaria

    The only time I attempted to claim a benefit (ESA) I abandoned the exercise because it was frighteningly complicated.

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  4. Ivan Thomas

    I have worked in the construction industry all my life and am a qualified plumber.
    I had to give this up 3 years ago because I had to have a knee joint replaced and am now looking for sedentary work
    Despite completing 3 IT courses and gaining a qualification in business admin I have not even had a job application acknowledged in the last 18 months and the Jobcentre are increasingly getting on my back.
    If I get randomly sactioned for ‘not trying hard enough’ I will have nothing left to lose.

    If, in the future you read about an unemployed West Midlands plumber with nothing left to lose taking out a Tory politician in a suicide pact you read it here first!

  5. Jj

    My partner’s DLA application home visit took two attempts because the first one was cancelled due to my partner having an episode of haemoptysis (coughing up blood).
    Whilst reading the report (requested after the rejection), it was nice to see that the episode was recorded on separate notes, that conveniently don’t form part of the application, as a ‘nosebleed’.

    Yes, a nosebleed seems like a perfectly good reason to terminate and reschedule a benefits assessment. Luckily for the assessor, she worked for the DWP, and that sort of thing is encouraged, instead of being rightfully punished…

    Weirdly enough, the same thing happened during the WCA and they actually submitted it as it was.
    In any case, my partner was placed into the support group. All of their other conditions are complicated and debilitating enough, without having spells of blood coughing.

  6. Jay

    We may end up with something called Universal Credit where claimants make one-stop-shop claims to get their entitlements, but the mountains of conditionality that IDS and Freud want heaped on every claimant earning less than the minimum wage will never happen. Why? Because no computer system in the world could ever administer the system automatically and not enough staff could be afforded by the civil service to administer the system manually. It is effectively dead in the water. As will the careers of Freud, IDS, and Mark Hoban in due course. Already the first try at an overarching IT system (Real Time Information and ATLAS) has been scrapped at a cost > £300 million as per software development already carried out! How any person of average intelligence could ever have thought this pile of ka-ka was ever going to be fit for purpose wants hi (or her) bumps feeling!

  7. Chocky

    Labour scrap Universal Credit? Not if Liam Byrne has his way. Byrne has offered to have talks with IDS to “help” save the Universal Credit project. Liam thinks that Universal Credit and “conditionality” are great ideas and wants them put in place sooner rather than scrapped.

  8. fuckthetories

    It’s not going to happen. Follow all the links on the right of this article.

    They were also warned by Professor John Seddon nearly 2 years ago that it was a “train crash waiting to happen”

    Another expensive government IT failure consigned to the dustbin of history

  9. bskivington123

    these people should be investigated as they are breaking the law and finding people fit and they are ill or have serious disabilities and have been found fit for work once the decision is made some people cant cope and are taken their own life while other are found dead a few days later and are not been report by media so yes im glad this has came to the fore front and here hoping that it can be change as the poor and disable and terminally ill and mental health are all being attacked so wrong society consultation and GP are more that able to diagnose their patient without false illness as its not worth these people time they are more interested on patient getting the right help so these atos people are saying all consultation and gp are in competent and there patents are fit for work they are causing deaths

  10. catwoman36

    I have been doing some digging into past social security regs 1972 & 1979 came accross this bit of info according to the regs you are classed as unable to work if you have a mental/physical/terminal/contagious condition and you are under going medical treatment this reg has as far as i can tell has never been ammended or revoked. Which means that all disabled people are incapable of working as we are all under medical treatment eg appointments docters clinics medication etc. So that means under the regs the wca and even pip are illegal. When i tried to go back for a copy of this i couldnt get back to it. If some one else maybe able to find it. In meantime i will try to find it if i do i will post it. It maybe of some use in the fight against ids and co

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