The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) paid staff over £1.2m in bonuses in August alone. This comes as Liz Truss’s Tory government has refused to commit to increasing social security rates next year. So social security claimants would be forgiven for thinking the DWP is taking the piss as it pays staff bonuses for plunging them into horrific poverty.
DWP: more benefit cuts coming
As the Herald reported, the government could potentially scrap the inflation-linked rise in social security next April. This was originally committed to by former chancellor Rishi Sunak. Truss said:
In terms of benefits uprating, that is something the Work and Pensions Secretary is looking at and she will make an announcement in due course as is the normal practice, for the autumn.
Coventry Live reported that the DWP would do this to save money. It said that the Tories might do this by changing how the DWP works out benefit rates. As the article noted, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng:
refused to say that Universal Credit and other benefits will be increased to match inflation – which could go over 10%. Instead the benefits are expected to rise by just 5.4% – meaning in real terms they will be cut because the amount they increase will be much lower than the rate at which everything is getting more expensive.
The 5.4% would be the case if the DWP increased social security by average earnings, not inflation. Think tank the Resolution Foundation tweeted that if the government did this it would actually mean a cut to benefits:
Much speculation that the Government wants to uprate working-age benefits by earnings rather than inflation next year. This would be permanent welfare cut, saving £5bn, and an income hit of around £500 for a low-income family with two kids (rising to £1,000 if done over 2 years). pic.twitter.com/Z9KaDHeLnS
— Resolution Foundation (@resfoundation) October 4, 2022
Given the Tories might be hitting the poorest families with cuts of up to £500 a year, you’d think they’d at least try and save money elsewhere. Clearly not – as the DWP has also just released its latest staff bonus figures.
Bonuses for following DWP orders
Figures from the DWP show that in August, it paid over £1.2m in “non-consolidated performance payments”. However, this dwarfs the figure for this financial year’s total. DWP civil servants get two types of bonuses – ones every month and also a full year one, paid the following July after the end of the financial year in April. This means the DWP have paid staff the following bonuses so far this year:
This makes a total since April of £14.6m. July’s £12.2m for the previous year was an increase of nearly £2m on 2021. Plus, bosses got tens of thousands of pounds in individual bonuses in 2021/22. So, while the DWP is planning to cut social security it’s still paying out millions in bonuses. Effectively, it’s rewarding its staff for following its orders to make people destitute.
As the Resolution Foundation said:
Cutting working-age benefits by £5 billion next year would be done in the context of household incomes already falling in real-terms, and would therefore deepen – and extend – the cost-of-living crisis well into next year, and possibly beyond that.
Yet still, the DWP is paying bonuses. While the issue isn’t new, the context is even worse now. With inflation still set to rise higher, the poorest people are facing a catastrophe. The DWP paying itself bonuses is just another sick twist of the knife for them.
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