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back to article New dole system is 'digital by default', like it or not

Universal credit – the government's "new and improved" benefits system – will be the first major government service to be digital by default. This is according to Steve Dover, director of major programmes at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Dover says: "There will be a back office to deal with the more vulnerable in …

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Oh dear...

I know most of the people who work in the Jobcentres have absolutely no interest in your welfare or their job - but I assume the end result of this scheme is to make a good 80-90% of them unemployed too?

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Anonymous Coward

How will this affect the homeless?

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Flawed idea

I'd like to see all of the geniuses who come up with this idea, made to work on the front end for a change. Get them answering calls dealing with people at the front line who are relying on these benefits, then see if a automated IT system is such a good idea, or wether it makes more sense to actually have people who have some understanding on the benefits sytems and who are trained to help people. (Yes before you say it I know some dont care, but some do actually make an effot I say this as someone who worked in a bens office for a period of time).

Having an automated systems fails in a few ways for me.

1. You need access to the equipment, daily mail aside a lot of people on benefits may not actually have the equipment to access the online site, or may not be able to afford the cost to do so.

Libraries all very well, if they are local (if not you may have to pay to get to them), often not set up right, limits on time you can use it, what you can run etc.

2. You need to be able to use the net, yes this is a geek site so there may be a lot of scoffing. But I would bet for everyone that has a it was easy to teach my gran/ mum etc to use the net theres a dozen people who have silently mentally planned murder of loved ones.

3. The people most likely to be effected by this are the people who probably need the most help.

4. Theres also a lot of bloody annoying people who probably could use it, but will tie up the now limited phone lines because why should they.

5. Its being run by the goverment so its likely to be a model of incompetences from the start.

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FAIL

Online by default?

What about the masses of 'evidence' the benefit offices always ask for?

Wage slips from partners, ID and so on. Will these be read by machines as well?

That's what backoffice staff spend their time doing, hunting through mounds of crap to find the one detail the person was actually asked for.

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RE online by default

Usually a benefits assesment goes something like this.

Staff at frontline gather information (this is the bit that will be web based).

Claims once assembled go to benefits assesors who score them by points, so I guess that there will still have to be someone who actaully reads the applications and scores them otherwise it will become to easy to game the system.

Problem is the benefits assesors never really deal with the frontline, to them its often just a points game and since they don't have to deal with actual joe public then it does not matter to them that someone gets turned down for something minor as they dont have to deal with it.

This means people end up without any dole / rent for well I have seen months just because of someone being the equivalent of computer says no.

Saw things like this often enough working for bens to be a bit cycnical about this system. Also the council who does housing and council tax benefits sometimes has the advisors on piecework eg you do this many pieces you get to finish, I've seen that put the benefits behind by several months for hundreds of people.

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Anonymous Coward

Honesty isn't the best policy

My own experience (thankfully a distant memory) with long-term unemployment is that the more honest you are the more likely you are to hit snags in the systems. 'Professional' dole-bludgers (a minority despise their appeal in the popular mind as the norm) know how to game the systems, but poor shmucks genuinely trying to take whatever crappy work they can find day-by-day invariably find themselves loosing out.

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Unhappy

I think they've just managed a first... crossing a flying pig with a committee designed horse (camel)

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Anonymous Coward

Oh here we go again

I used to work in the benefits office. We had shit tons of paperwork (case files) in metal cabinet draws overspilling everywhere. Much of the case files were out of alphabetical order or not there at all and hiding on/in/under someones desk. We had to wander around endlessly all day looking for them when they were more often than not not in the drawers. Heck I got into so much shit if I 'missed' it during one of my searches. The CEO's etc really treated you like shit and if you so much as farted you were pulled in for an interview and had a black mark put on your report.

We once ran a barcaose system on them which was eventually scrapped (another complete waste of time and tax payers money). They were still using a modem coupler for sending data when everybody else had switched to email and other coms technology. The pleb in the IT department knew less than me. But if I tried to make a push for a post in the IT department I got stomped down every fucking time. It was not a case of what you know but who's arse you were licking.

Anyhow one day we were asked to attend a meeting up North somewhere to discuss the installation of newfangles filing systems in the basement (The type you used a rotating level to move them with). We was all treated to a bang up meal with the managers after showing around their fancy factory where they built them. We went ahead and ordered a load of them to be installed at some considerable costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Oopsie!

That should of course read 'HEO's (Higher Executive Officer)'. It's been a while.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh here we go again cont...

Roll on a few months later once they were all installed. We are all carted in by the higher ups asking why we had wasted a large sum of the tax payers money on what was effectively a white elephant as it was far too much storage space for one office. We all bowed with our heads between our legs saying we were sweet talked into buying it buy this company and would not have done so if we had not been wined and dined.

The office ended up as storage for several offices from then on. I don't know how that worked out because I left soon after that and all I can say is good riddance to it.

Anyone working for the government in the lower echelons are treated like shit. I am of the strong belief that if you treat people like shit they will respond in kind and try every trick in the book not to do a good job.

tl;dr government work is shit at the bottom so spare a thought for the poor frontliners.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't this require some kind of Digital Identity Assurance

which I believe they just cancelled:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/22/dwp_pulls_back_identity_services_tender/

I smell a nother massive Gov IT cockup about to happen

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Anonymous Coward

Hello, your webside dosent work on my computer

Are you tech support?

Cool, Im using my commadore 64 :) Its running linux you know

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Meh

Interesting Facts

More than half the people living in social housing do not have internet access. Half the people living in social housing are disabled. Five million households are in social housing. Two thirds of households in social housing claim Housing Benefit, and most of these also claim Council Tax Benefit. Most, but I don't have a figure, social housing tenants are also claiming other benefits (disability, unemployment etc.). Do you see where this is going?

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