Nearly half of the staff working for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in helping claimants with their benefit claims are themselves dependent of some form of benefit to make ends meet, it has been revealed.
The shocking revelation was revealed during a meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC), where the new Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was asked how many DWP staff are curently claiming Universal Credit.
Initially, Therese Coffey claimed she didn’t know how many DWP staff are on Universal Credit, which the Committee Chair Frank Field MP described as a “scandal”.
Mr Field pressed the DWP Secretary to provide the Committee with the figures, but Coffey argued that doing so may infringe on its staff privacy and data protection rights.
However, SNP Committee member Chris Stephens revealed evidence obtained through third-party Freedom of Information requests, which showed that at least 40% of DWP staff are claiming benefits to top-up low wages.
“This has already been in the public domain”, said Mr Stephens. “There has already been Freedom of Information requests asking these questions.”
He continued: “There is actually over 40% of people employed by the department who are claiming some sort of benefit to bring their income up to an acceptable standard.
“What does that say about a Government department whose purpose is to alleviate poverty, that almost half of the staff – and certainly over 40% of the staff – are living in some sort of poverty themselves?”
A senior DWP official, sitting beside Therese Coffey, replied that staff wage increases have been higher than for many other public sector workers, while adding that the department provides help for its staff to climb the income ladder.