Future for HB Staff – PQ

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  • #39974
    Jon__Blackwell
    Participant

    There’s a new written answer re HB staffing – no hard news though.

    ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111207/text/111207w0003.htm#11120756000096 )

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    Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will announce what will happen to staff currently administering housing benefit when it is replaced by universal credit.

    Chris Grayling: Universal credit is a national benefit. It will be delivered largely through an online service, with its core administration most efficiently run by a centralised system. As DWP start to build the organisation to deliver universal credit, and we have yet to settle on the precise detail, and select the right people with the right capability it is likely some of those skills will exist within local authorities. We will therefore always look to include local authority staff in our thinking.

    In relation to the longer term delivery of universal credit, we will continue to work with colleagues in HM Revenue and Customs and local authorities to test new ways of working and impact ongoing delivery model design at both a national and local level. Our aim is to work collaboratively to enable the decision making process and deliver optimal value. This includes the decision making around any redundancies, for which we have small amount in our business case (whether they are in DWP, HMRC or local authorities). However, we will work to reduce the number of redundancies as far as possible, given the time available to us to plan and complete the transition to universal credit by 2017. I expect survey results to be available from local authorities by the end of the year and hope to be able to provide more details of the transition plan in the new year.

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    I think the ministers faith in online adminstration might be a little on the brave side.

    Does anyone remember when the tax credits online portal had to be closed down in 2005 ?

    ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4493008.stm )

    And today – six years on…

    http://taxcredits.hmrc.gov.uk/HomeNew.aspx

    .. still at least that’s only a *temporary* problem. – Jon

    #114098
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster
    #114136
    Lee Fearon
    Participant

    If UC goes ahead in its current form, (and I’m sufficiently optimistic to view this as a big “if”), the DWP won’t be able to cope with the administration.

    Expect a significant chunk of processing to be outsourced to the usual suspects and an expansion of the processing centres located in areas where labour costs and commercial rents are cheaper.

    it’s no coincidence that Lord Freud addressed the Capita conference earlier this week, spouting on about how current welfare provision was unafforable/unsustainable.

    #114149
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [quote=Lee Fearon]…Lord Freud addressed the Capita conference earlier this week, spouting on about how current welfare provision was unafforable/unsustainable.[/quote]

    On that single standalone fact, he is right. Unfortunately, neither he nor anyone else in a position of power appears to understand anything beyond that let alone how to minimise front line effect with (genuine) simplification of benefits legislation. To use the phrase “…it’s a joke…” doesn’t even chip the tip of the benefits iceberg in the context of what it happening, in reality, on the ground.

    #114157
    nickkeogh
    Participant

    [quote=Lee Fearon]If UC goes ahead in its current form, (and I’m sufficiently optimistic to view this as a big “if”), the DWP won’t be able to cope with the administration.

    Expect a significant chunk of processing to be outsourced to the usual suspects and an expansion of the processing centres located in areas where labour costs and commercial rents are cheaper.

    it’s no coincidence that Lord Freud addressed the Capita conference earlier this week, spouting on about how current welfare provision was unafforable/unsustainable.[/quote]

    This appears to be the inevitable conclusion. As I pointed out on another thread Capita are licking their lips at all of this. Big whopping 15-20 year contract probably as well due to these sorts of projects never being done by half. DWP staff will need to relocate and then after TUPE protection ends they will end up on the lower salaries that Capita and other companies pay due to the various outsourcing companies belief that all forms of benefit processing is effectively just “data-processing”. The existing job market also allows them to pay the bare minimum due to there being no shortage of takers.

    #114163
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    There were in fact two questions asked about Capita two days ago in Parliament; they have not won any new related contracts.

    We have been here before -competitive tendering. Lots of contracts were put out to the private sector and attracted zero bids. It is actually hard to make a profit from public service; withness the collapse of those involved in PPI (Jarvis were one such) for instance. Similarly in HB – I can remember the IT companies telling the audience that they would all be unemployed in a couple of years as the systems would not need them. Where all these companies now? So many are in administration or have pulled out of the business.

    Apart from a very few, HB adminstration has been a disaster for the private sector financially.

    Oh and who are some of the biggest investors in Capita? UK pension funds …… :bigsmile:

    So I am afraid the facts suggest that what the Government would like and what it gets are very different.

    #114169
    Lee Fearon
    Participant

    Peter

    The odds are more heavily stacked the private sectors favour than they were in the past.

    The economy is nose diving, there’s abundant surplus labour, (which will soon include those with welfare processing skills, if all goes according to plan and LA Benefis staff are made redundant), both commercial property and labour will be cheaper to acquire in a “buyers market”and the Government will be desperate to outsource welfare benefits work in order to fulfill their asppirations for UC. (The DWP don’t have the requisite resources and it will be too expensive for them to recruit and train staff, bearing in mind the security imbedded in employment contracts in the public sector).

    So I predict fairly lucrative opportunities for private companies who will have done their homework and be fully aware that the Government can’t administer UC without them. Furthermore their profit margins will be enhanced by the ability to recruit in areas of low employment on contracts of employment which offer realtively low wages and little security.

    I really hope I’m wrong on this. 🙁

    #114170
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    But raising finance is tough and Governments change and change their policies! The money invested in certain HB products over the last few years just before UC was announced was huge. Expect some huge writeoffs. UC is a minefield and very risky …just before an election? Maybe some will take the risk but I reiterate that HB admin has not been as good to the private sector as many think…and a disaster for many .

    #114172
    Andi M
    Participant

    I am not really sure about this. The first thing that concerns me is the old addage that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, from what I have seen of draft legislation so far, things are not really going to be a lot simpler than they are now and basic data entry skills just won’t cut it.
    The second thing is the idea of localistion. This might have worked when the private companies were administering on behalf of the LA, but i can’t see it working for UC. Unless of course all those JC+ centres that are closing down are leased as a part of the deal, I can’t see any of the private companies having the capacity to provide a local service on a nationwide basis; and having multiple private companies involved would just be a procurement/contractual/administrative nightmare that leaks public funds.
    Having just read back that last sentence I have realised that it makes that choice the likely candidate

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