The DWP just revealed how many millions it paid out in staff bonuses. Take a deep breath.

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has released the finalised amounts it paid out in staff bonuses for 2016/17. You may want to take a deep breath.

The DWP: alright for some

The DWP’s total bonus bill for the year was just shy of £43m – almost £1.7m higher than it previously reported. But with estimated staff gifts, The Canary makes this figure £47.2m

DWP staff have both monthly bonuses (referred to here by the DWP as “in-year”) and an end-of-year one. They are broken down into bonuses for “delegated pay grade” (regular staff) and “senior civil servants”.

For regular staff, the DWP awarded:

Then, for senior civil servants, it dished out:

It also gave out 113,133 gift vouchers to staff, with a total of median values of £4.24m (a Canary estimate) [xls, row 5, column AH].

Senior civil servants earn between £65,000 and £200,000 [pdf, p133]. In 2016/17, the highest paid of these was former DWP director general of operations Andrew Rhodes. With pay, bonuses, and “benefits in kind”, his remuneration before tax was between £305,000 and £310,000 [pdf, p126].

Read on...

Austerity for everyone else

Meanwhile, tucked away in the latest DWP accounts for 2017/18 is the estimated benefit underpayments figure [pdf, p169]. As the accounts show:

Underpayments are at the highest estimated level to date…

Excluding pensions, the department underpaid claimants by £1.7bn in 2017/18 – 2% of the total welfare bill. Including pensions, the figure is 1%, while the department’s target is 0.9%.

The Canary asked the DWP for comment but received none by the time of publication. Previously, the DWP told The Canary:

In line with Civil Service pay guidance, DWP rewards employees for their performance through either end of year non-consolidated payments and/or in-year payments. Employees who have attained agreed performance levels as part of their performance review may receive an end of year non-consolidated payment based on their grade and end of year performance marking.

We operated within our departmental budget for the 2016/17 financial year and plan our spending accordingly.

‘Rewarding cruelty’

A former DWP jobcentre adviser wrote in the Guardian:

I was expected to apply aggressive targets to some of the most vulnerable people in society if they were five minutes late for an interview or failed to apply for enough jobs. Some were literally without food and couldn’t afford heating. Whereas I used to feel I was doing something for clients, I increasingly felt I was getting ‘brownie points’ for cruelty.

The individual bonuses for regular staff may seem paltry, but some senior civil servants’ packages are eye-wateringly large. Either way though, with a track record of perpetual chaos, legal actions, and a total of five damning international reports into successive governments and the department – should the DWP be awarding bonuses at all? Some would probably say ‘no’.

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