DWP staff received almost £140 million in bonuses over the last three years

Knowing what we do about the performance of the Department for Work and Pensions – and in anticipation of some further information soon to be released by This Blog – the following announcement by the DWP is in phenomenally bad taste:

Over the last three years, the Department for Work and Pensions has handed out £139.9 million in bonuses to its staff – £124.37 million of which has gone to Senior Civil servants.

In the year ending April 2015, the DWP paid out £42.1 million, slightly less than the year before when bonuses totalled £46.5 million.

The DWP has insisted that bonuses are only paid to employees whose work is consistently good or outstanding.

In response to that, the obvious question is: By whose standards?

This is the government organisation that has hounded thousands – perhaps millions – of people off of state benefits which they deserved to have, leaving more than half of the people found ‘fit for work’ by late 2012 with no income at all.

It is the organisation whose policies led to the deaths of at least two people – Michael O’Sullivan and Julia Kelly.

It is also the organisation that managed to improve its claimants’ chances of survival by suspending part of its benefit assessment procedure.

That’s right – This Blog has evidence suggesting that the number of people who died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance actually fell when repeat assessments were suspended in early 2014.

What do you think that implies about the effect of work capability assessments in general?

A full article will follow in a few hours.

Source: DWP staff received almost £140 million in bonuses over the last three years | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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14 thoughts on “DWP staff received almost £140 million in bonuses over the last three years

  1. ian725

    You know Mike these guys are what we used to call Pirates. These same guys used to hang kids for stealing a loaf of Bread . Bearing in mind that punishment, what should be meted out to these guys for what I see as Treason against the State ,that used to be Hanged ,Drawn, and Quartered I do believe.

  2. AndyH

    How many lives could have been saved if that money had been paid out in social security – as opposed to syphoning the money away via sanctions.

  3. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    I’m not surprised that your blog has evidence suggesting that the number of people who died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance actually fell when repeat assessments were suspended in early 2014.

    A recent article on a public health study in the U.S. of the time-limited, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which combines work and training programs with penalties tied to bureaucratic requirements, concluded:

    So, while keeping someone on welfare indefinitely may cost more, that person might live longer. Yet under the theory that “personal responsibility” must be promoted through economic punishment, some conservatives seem unsure whether spending on social supports to stabilize and potentially lengthen a poor person’s life is a net benefit. In brutally mathematical terms, the study reveals how the neoliberal social “safety net” aims at reducing the cost of caring and indirectly devalues the poor, rather than helping them live more secure and healthier lives.

    Excerpted from: [U.S.] Is Welfare Reform Causing Earlier Deaths? | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/welfare-reform-causing-earlier-deaths/

    See also: [Australia] Extra medical tests for disability support can make health worse http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-02-extra-medical-disability-health-worse.html

  4. David Bacon

    Seems as though they’re keeping money which should have gone towards benefits. Now isn’t this just a bit dishonest? Is IDS taking a cut? I think we should be tole!

  5. Mr.Angry

    This is criminal how can they do this whilst people need food banks, they are pure evil the lot of them, I’m OK Joe, they should all be put on trial.

  6. Dez

    BLOOD MONEY!! Just what were those targets that created the bonus payments???
    Feels like sharing the spoils of ill gotten gains……. Look forward to chapter Two

  7. John D Turner

    The Department for Work and Pension’s pre-determined bonus pot is top sliced off the Department’s salary budget and a major source of grievance within the Department, given that the way in which bonuses are awarded is very subjective, being a decision for one’s line manager. I say pre-determined, because a fixed proportion of staff must not receive a bonus in order that the scheme be seen as ‘fair’ and the total amount of the bonuses not exceed the size of the Treasury determined pot. As a consequence, one’s line manager may find their judgment disputed, if they have awarded too many bonuses by number or by amount.

    Crucially, it is not possible for one’s line manager to say, at the start of the performance year, if you do Y and Z or persecute X number of clients that you will definitely qualify for a bonus of this amount. Consequently, it was rare, in my experience to find any that took the bonus scheme into account when undertaking their duties. And, any way, given that there were so few bonus bands, one quite often found colleagues who had been coasting all year, receiving the same amount as others who had been performing over and above the norm. Unsurprisingly, such results did precious little for morale.

    There is, therefore, little connection between the bonus scheme and the behaviour of staff towards, for example, DWP’s clients as individuals or groups. Some DWP staff do not like the people whom they are meant to serve and have never needed a bonus scheme to adopt that attitude. I never needed a bonus to dislike some of the employers (and external partners) with whom I had to work. I just did my best, mostly successfully, to hide it and do my job to the best of my ability (and in line with my Socialist principles and take on the public service ethos).

    Bonus amounts are calculated by grade. The higher up the pay scale you are, the greater amount of the bonus you receive. Again, this is a further reason for disaffection with the scheme as, the further one is away from public facing roles, the greater one’s potential bonus. Moreover, although one pays tax and NI on the bonuses, because they are non-consolidated, they do not count towards the calculation of one’s Civil Service Pension on retirement.

    PCS has, quite rightly, always been opposed to this bonus scheme and previous iterations as a matter of principle, but to no avail. However, they were scrapped for a brief while, when the Chief Executive Office of the Yorkshire Bank became CEO of Jobcentre Plus. He felt they were incompatible with efforts to encourage people to work as teams. Seemingly, he had not got the management consultant’s memo that they were an excellent motivational tool. There is also not one shred of empirical evidence that bonuses actually increase productivity in any sustainable way. Although they may be one of the factors behind the mis-selling of, say, financial products like payment protection insurance.

    One should not, of course, forget that part of DWP’s staffing cadre are solely involved with pension take up and administration as well as other areas of activity wholly un-associated with the administration of benefits, claimed by working age clients and subject to conditionality. And, of course, assessments for entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment are outsourced to companies whose staff are not on DWP’s payroll.

    To be concise, few in DWP want the bonus scheme. In addition, some people do not need a bonus to behave vindicatively towards DWP’s clients. They were doing so, to my knowledge, before any bonus scheme was in place. As an aside, I look forward to a right wing blogger, inspired one suspects by an article in the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph, foaming at the keyboard about bonuses for Civil Servants at the Ministry of Defence. Such displays have become as much part of the calendar as fireworks on November 5th, but a lot less illuminating.

    1. Dez

      Thanks John, Appreciate your time in helping to understand how the DWP bonus system works on the ground.. Useful confirmation as to where the big bonus money goes (no surprise there, universal law me thinks) and for also giving an insight into the general grass roots feelings about the current bonus system. it is comforting to know that DWP public head count impact etc does not seem to be an influencing bonus factor to the grass root employees.. Perhaps not so clear is if public head targets/reductions are part of the top managements delivery which bonus details would most likely be held behind closed doors Top managements bonus/promotional drive might however be reflected in their management style and directives to their reporting staff even if these same reporting staff do not share their managements objectives/bonus drive.

  8. Guy Ropes

    Mike, you’re obviously very well connected but this landed in my facebook today and I’ve not seen you comment on it. Search on: “Vanessa Gearson”. One of the results, from 16th October, 2003, will be a parliamentary report on the employment (or not) of Betsy Duncan Smith. You may well find it interesting if you are unaware of it.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Aren’t we all? He was cleared of any wrongdoing but it appears to have been a whitewash.

  9. robertday154

    John Turner doesn’t mention whether performance related pay in DWP these days still has the highly motivational feature whereby staff (including quite junior clericals) who are on the top of their pay grade and who qualify for performance related increases don’t get a pay increase but get all their increase in the form of a non-consolidated (i.e. does not go towards the pension) lump swum bonus – usually a few hundred pounds. Headline numbers like these never say if they include these bonuses or not.

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