Radical Action – Why I think DWP agents hold the key to forcing change

It is well know that Universal Credit is causing hardship, suffering even death. While the public are all too aware of this, employees of The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are living it everyday. That’s why I’m proposing radical action.

I will admit that this may not be the most popular of ideas but ask that you hear me out.

Day in day out, thousands of staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) deal with some of the most vulnerable people in society. We’ve all seen the stories in the media about how people have suffered because of Universal Credit. Those staff members are literally part of those stories.

I was emailed by a reader who stated that although I like many others are highlighting the failure of the system this in itself will not bring change. They went on to say that I had not addressed one key demographic of the system; DWP staff.

At first I wasn’t sure about this but thinking on it more I came to the realisation that they were right. Who better to appeal to for help than the very people inside the system.

It is almost unanimous, unless you are a Tory that Universal Credit is not working. There are many different views on what should be done. They range from halting the roll-out until it’s fixed to outright scrapping the scheme.

If you hadn’t noticed the government don’t care how bad Universal Credit looks, they just plough on anyway. So this is why I think a few thousand people hold the key to kick-starting change.

Radical Action

As I said this may not be popular but in my opinion it could be extremely effective to force the Tories to act fast.

While it may be easy to group the staff at jobcentres and call centres as complicit, I don’t think that will help. What I propose is appealing to them for help.

In no way am I excusing the actions of the staff who’ve intentionally caused suffering, let that be clear. However there are tens of thousands of members of staff at the DWP. Many of them will and do have a heart.

I propose that we appeal for them to strike.

Now this can be put in very simple terms to them why it is in their interest to force change.

Better system, better working conditions

Head of the PCS Union Mark Serwotka

I think they can strike on the principle that the failures of Universal Credit are causing an adverse impact on them. After all it’s no secret that staff are unhappy.

Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union leader Mark Serwotka has said on record that the training staff receive in various areas is well below standard. Add in that some staff will be dealing with extremely traumatising cases, this doesn’t exactly scream good working conditions.

Yes we the claimants need the suffering to end, but we are all human and no matter what, I don’t think that DWP staff members should be dealing with what they are. Unfortunately some obviously do enjoy their job, there’s no denying that fact either.

But if they froze the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) demanding action on Universal Credit and Welfare Reform in general I believe the government would be between a rock and a hard place very very quickly.

Why would the government have to act?

It’s very simple. Money.

Can you imagine the compensation claims put in when cases are delayed because of strike action? It wouldn’t take long for the pressure to build on Esther McVey to act.

It’s not like she can draft in replacements to cover those on strike either, the job is too complex. Add in temp staffing costs and it puts them under more financial pressure.

Not without risks

In no way am I saying that I’m 100% educated on this. That would be a lie. For all I know it could be futile or even impossible.

I do however accept that their is one huge risk if strike action happened. That claimants would suffer because of it.

Is that justified? Honestly I don’t know as I’d be one of those at risk.

Would I rather suffer in the short term for a long term solution? Yes I would. I however am one person, there’s 800,000 other claimants who might disagree with me.

In short, I think if staff democratically voted to strike, the government would be forced into a position to act swiftly.

That’s just my opinion.


Should any staff or contractors from the Department for Work and Pensions be reading this I am in no way suggesting unofficial strike action. I am a firm believer in Unions and their democratic processes.

I do urge you to approach your union representative or join the PCS union and push for improvements to the welfare system. If that should include striking that is your opinion and yours alone.

Alex Tiffin

@RespectIsVital on Twitter

Universal Credit Sufferer on Facebook

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