DWP work coaches could see their workload quadruple as Universal Credit rolls out, expert witnesses warned Holyrood.
Currently each work coach supports 85 claimants – with that figure expected to rise to 373 by 2024-25.
The startling figure adds to fears over the impact of the Universal Credit roll-out which has been plagued by problems.
Kirsty McKechnie of the Child Poverty Action Group warned that work coaches were already struggling with the existing number of claimants, saying:
“We already know that’s an issue with their current workload. We have people who are leaving notes in their journals for their work coaches and just not getting a response. That’s before this work load has ramped up”.
Victoria Todd of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group added: “We certainly have concerns as to how you would deal with that volume…
“What will happen when you have got the migration and the many more claimants per work coach, to consider all of the factors you’ve just outlined, it’s definitely a worry as to whether they can cope with that.”
Witnesses also warned that Universal Credit was failing to encourage people into work and had seen an increase in sanctions.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “This is just the latest warning that the Tories roll-out of Universal Credit is a complete disaster.
“Time and time again, the Tories have insisted Universal Credit is about getting people back into work. But the reality is that the DWP’s work coaches are expected to manage a massive increase in their caseloads – it’s just not credible.
“With our limited powers over welfare in Scotland we are building a social security agency with dignity and respect at its heart, and we are spending more than £100m a year mitigating some of the cruel welfare cuts.
“It’s time for Scotland to take complete control of the welfare system, rather than leaving it in the hands of the Tories.”
Disclaimer: This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).