Universal Credit and the perspectives of former Jobcentre Plus staff

This is a Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC) seminar taking place at Leeds University Business School on Wednesday 8 May 2019

Jo Ingold (CERIC, University of Leeds)

Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham)

Mark Monaghan (University of Birmingham)


Universal Credit (UC) is one of the most controversial changes to the social security system and is without precedent historically and internationally. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been at the forefront of successive governments’ programmes of welfare reform, including UC. At the same time, it has been impacted by severe reductions in staff numbers since 2010 as part of austerity. Little is known, however, of the impact of these policy reforms on staff, or how far this impacted on their reasons for departure from the Department. This paper presents initial findings from interviews with former DWP employees, including frontline staff, in the north of England.

Amongst our respondents, dissatisfaction with their current role and the direction of policy were the clearest themes to emerge as reasons for their departure, in the context of the broader austerity landscape in which UC emerged. This was also linked with longer-term ideological developments within labour market policy and the use of managerialist forms of governance such as targets and performance appraisal. A critical element was also ‘digital by default’ as a policy goal, manifesting at the frontline as a de-humanising process

For further information, please contact ceric@leeds.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing you there.