A WHISTLEBLOWER inside one of the government’s pilot centres for universal credit has warned how numerous errors will make a smooth introduction of the new system “highly unlikely”.
Staff at the service centre in Elizabeth House, Bolton town centre, have been involved in supporting the management of universal credit since it was piloted in Ashton-under-Lyne and Wigan last year.
Since then, a member of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, who has asked not to be named, told The Bolton News that employees have been leaving their jobs “in droves” after facing huge pressure to make an unworkable system fit for purpose.
Other issues included glitches with the computer system and inadequate training with staff only able to process a fraction of the claims they could under the old system.
The spokesman said: “The union has had to deal with more personal cases on site, as people try to cope with the pressure being put on them. I’ve never seen so many people take early retirement.
“The Jobcentres themselves are under a great deal of pressure — because they are front-facing staff.
“Universal credit is all supposed to be completed online, but as one of the staff put it some of our customers can’t use a pencil — because of the various difficulties they have faced — let alone a computer.”
Trained universal credit account developers are only able to complete three tasks a day, they added, compared with processing 30 claims a day under the old system of jobseekers’ allowance.
The representative from the PCS said while the acknowledged reform of the benefit system was necessary, universal credit as it stands is a ‘unworkable monster’.
The spokesman added: “The government needs to look at exactly what money has been spent, how it’s been spent and how successful it has been so far.
“Lord Freud and Iain Duncan Smith might think it’s all been singing and dancing, but that’s not the case.”