Senior officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been gifted with eye-watering bonuses despite rising poverty and record numbers of people turning to food banks to feed themselves and their families, it has been revealed.
Information published by the DWP reveals that DWP bosses were handed £595,392 in “end of year” bonuses in 2017/18 and further £544,745 in the following year.
The shocking revelation has sparked anger and disbelief at the bonanza of bonuses awarded to DWP officials, who together have helped to implement some of the harshest cuts to social security benefits in living memory.
SNP MSP Shona Robison said: “This is a really bad look and the UK government should look twice at a system that rewards senior officials while punishing those dependent on their service.”
Robinson highlighted the harm caused by the Government flagship Universal Credit system, which has been blamed for the ever-increasing demand on food banks and rising poverty rates.
She said: “It beggars belief that DWP chiefs are taking big handouts while families across the country are struggling due to sanctions and the rollout of Universal Credit.”
Labour MSP Mark Griffin said society has “witnessed our social security system being cut to the bone, with those most in need hit hardest.”
He continued: “Senior civil servants, who implemented these policies, receiving such huge bonuses year after year is shocking.
“However, it is those who brought those policies into being, the Tories, who must shoulder the blame for their cruel cuts.”
Yesterday, The UK’s largest food bank network Trussell Trust reiterated is call for the UK Government to end the minimum five-week wait for an initial Universal Credit payment.
The charity’s Chief Executive Emma Revie said: “It’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. To reach that future, we need to make sure everyone has enough money for the essentials.
“The government’s first priority must be ensuring our benefits system anchors us all from the rising tide of poverty by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit.”
Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019 the Trussell Trust’s food bank network distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19% increase on the previous year.
New yearly figures due to be published by the charity in March 2020 are expected to show that demand on food banks is continuing to grow.
SNP MP Mhairi Black highlighted the case of a pregnant woman on Universal Credit during Wednesday’s PMQ’s, who she said had been left to survive on just £111 a month after deductions.
PM Boris Johnson defended the Universal Credit system but admitted that £111 a month is not enough to live on, while offering to look at the individual case she spoke about.
A DWP spokesperson said: “As is standard practice across the Civil Service, only staff performing well in their role receive a bonus.
“All payments follow strict Cabinet Office rules.”