back to article Union confirms two-day strike over Universal Credit's pisspoor IT

Universal Credit staff will strike for two days next week over "increasingly oppressive" working conditions and unusable IT, the Public and Commercial Services trade union has confirmed, following a vote late week. The union's members voted to down tools at the Glasgow and Bolton centres last week, where more than half (1,500 …

  1. keithpeter

    Did I read this right?

    3000 people administering a system used by 65 000 people? Could they not just take 20+ each and phone them up?

    Or are the 3000 people inputting data for the people being enroled on UC later?

    Coat: Confused. Not sure if coming or going...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did I read this right?

      @ keithpeter - Might I suggest that you are then in exactly the 'user' interfacing position this very system was designed for. By which I mean that, 'going forward' you are leaving, or 'going' as you so eloquently put it, and 'coming', you are also 'going forward' as you are arriving towards a new user-driven goal. So, whether you are coming or going with UC it's always forwards with the customer in mind and backwards with the technology in mind. In this manner the system is cleverly designed to maintain a user-limbo stasis whilst appearing to make progress of the 'going forward' kind. I would remind you that this administration, like all others past, has invested a considerable amount in the latest, modern, smoke-and-mirrors technology and will continue to do so, for so long as it's chums can maintain a 'going forward' deliverability model designed to obfuscate all logic and sanity.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Did I read this right?

      "Could they not just take 20+ each and phone them up?"

      I think that is pretty much what's happening. And they have to calculate the claim manually (or at any rate on a Spreadsheet).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's doomed I tells ya.

    Lets be honest here and pick it apart.

    UC comprises of the following.


    HB/CTB - Council

    The department of work and pensions (DWP) bit is easy as they are all on the same system however the council element (Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit) are not.

    How exactly are you going to interface with multiple systems developed independently over many years? Add to that the various regional variations and you have a big mess. The reason these things fail is because someone somewhere didn't scope the project properly, I would have started with one area and built it up from there until the job was done properly and also speak to the users of the system to understand what they need to do their jobs effectively.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The council people end up without a job because the council stops paying housing benefit and it's all paid as part of the single monthly UC payment. UC is going to replace all of the separate systems with one single system (you missed tax credits off the list).

      The implementation might be flawed but the idea behind UC is solid and definitely geared towards making working more profitable than benefits and switching from benefits to work easier.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How exactly will working be more profitable?

        I find that the general consensus of commentards is a big fu to the poorer people, I and some of you moved and evolved from the channel 4 determination of poor.

        Not everyone can do that, but beating the meek is not on, they shall inherit the erth.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          It will be more profitable because every £ you earn will always mean extra money in your pocket after paying tax/NI on it, and taking into account the reduction in your benefit entitlements.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Take the example of a couple claiming Income Related ESA (sickness benefit): the wife who is not sick and not obliged to work could start a job earning national minimum wage for 26 hours per week but the claim would end because she is working 24+ hours per week.

          She would get £169 per week before tax (and bus fares) but on the benefit they would get ~£140 per week plus guaranteed housing benefit plus free prescriptions and free dentistry.

          Tax credits might top that up but they're still likely to be worse off overall.

          There's also the matter of moving from fortnightly pay to monthly with no support in the interim unless you can get a sub off your new employer.

          Universal Credit will be paid monthly and guarantee the household income will be greater in work than on benefits.

          If you'd like to explain how knowing what I'm taking about is beating the poor I'm all ears.

          1. Vic

            Take the example of a couple claiming Income Related ESA

            This is beginning to smell like insider knowledge; is there perhaps something you'd like to disclose?


      2. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

        The path to hell is paved with good intentions (and incompetent governance)

      3. SolidSquid

        The vast majority of benefits doesn't go towards people who are unemployed and still of working age. Based on 2013 numbers, 47% of money spent on benefits goes towards pensions, which is by far the largest portion of benefits payments, with only 6% going towards incapacity benefits and jobseekers allowance. This jumps to 16% if you include housing benefits, but a large part of that cost is from housing shortage in cities and this isn't exclusive to people who are unemployed (people earning under £16k can claim it).

        In terms of savings, the estimated cost by DWP for Universal Credit is 12.8bn, which is about 2 1/2 years of jobseeker benefits for the country, or just over a year of combined jobseekers and incapacity. Those savings are going to have to be pretty damn significant for this system to pay for itself in any reasonable time scale

    2. Vic

      How exactly are you going to interface with multiple systems developed independently over many years?

      perl DBI, usually :-)


  3. DubyaG

    Uh, from across the pond here. How does 0.7% penetration to eligible users correspond to an "essential service"? Looks like they could go on strike for several years and no one would notice.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Other I suppose than the poor bloody tax payers who are funding this mess.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      It is 100% of eligible users, those being single people, not disabled, who have previously had a job and live in a specific benefits office district.

  4. x 7 Silver badge

    I was on a contract team which setup one of the rooms in the Bolton centre a couple of years ago. I've seen some bad call centres, worked in a few, but the environment there was easily the worst.

    Untrained staff, mainly asian origin with minimal language skills being treated as near-slaves. The management attitude worked down to the front line staff, who in turn treated the customers like shit.

    Bullying of staff, limited loo breaks, impossible call rates, IT support staff who were prevented from fixing things for budgetary reasons (i.e. no spare keyboards or mice). 60% of the light tubes were faulty - and requests to fix them were refused on cost grounds, despite the illumination breaking HSE regulations.

    Once the PCs in the room we set up were installed, I was glad to be away from there.

    The key thing is that the site was contractor-run, not a part of the civil service. It was expanded while DWP sites such as Norcross and Piel Park were being closed. Who ran it? United Utilities.

  5. Faszination

    You are all forgetting one thing, Mark Serwotka is in charge of the PCS, he's an idiot.

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