DWP paid over £1m in staff bonuses in August as benefit cuts loom

Chloe Smith, a Jobcentre and the DWP logo
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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:

Read on...

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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.

Featured image via the Guardian – YouTube, Richard Townshend – Wikimedia, cropped under licence CC BY 3.0, and Wikimedia

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  • Show Comments
    1. I have just emailed the following to all Govt party leader plus press T.V. channels dated 5.10.2022

      To: Sturgeon N (Nicola), MSP; Nicola Sturgeon. Scottish leader; Contact Keir Starmer; Leader’s Office
      Subject: Increase in Universal Credit to match the increase in inflation

      Good day
      All Govt party leaders
      A simple question I ask you all elected M.P. plus Minister in all Govt parties

      Q—-Will you all do something good for once sign this pettish yes or no?

      Please sign
      I will explain why
      The people on benefits now are Struddling
      The small business that will shut down under Truss
      The H-energy bills put on us all because of Tory Govt members
      failed to address our U.K. energy needs.
      The bank of England NOT putting interest rate a long time ago has cost us H-cost of living Tory could have told them to put it a long time ago but failed now they are looking after the rich broad members of the Banks of England by increasing they bonuses this is paid for by us public in the long run.

      Hs the two new Tory party Govt members above will not look after the poor or low paid voters.

      All the failing of Tory party in Govt Over the MINI Budget set up will cost small Firms to close down will cost benefit claimant by moving them all into mass poverty in our rich country the U.K Truss will however look after the rich just like lying Boris did to get Tory party funding only.

      Hello there,
      I just signed the petition “Increase in Universal Credit to match the increase in inflation #UniversalCredit” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
      Our goal is to reach 150,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:


    2. I’m very disappointed in this article. I think you’re setting up a false opposition between DWP staff and their customers (specifically benefit claimants). Firstly, being paid an annual bonus doesn’t make all the staff well-paid. Some of them have to claim Universal Credit themselves. Neither does working for the department imply that you agree with all its policies. Staff have no control over policy and working for the DWP, as with many jobs, may involve a degree of compromise. I find your comment that the DWP is ‘rewarding its staff for following its orders to make people destitute’ completely unfair. It’s as if that’s all they do all day and all they’re interested in doing. This is simply not true. Most of the staff are actually doing their best to help people. You could have written a very different article to this. There’s plenty to criticise about current DWP policies without having a go at the staff.

      1. Yet you offer no counterclaims about how good the staff are sorry. I may see overworked and underpaid staff maybe sometimes but I also have seen the worst most abusive and downright nasty spiteful comments, behaviours and unconcern for these clients all are only asking for help nothing more.

        So are the clients the same people you seem to suggest are expendable? Just because the poor staff get a bonus now let’s unpack that bonus what do they get that for… Oh that’s right for sanctioning the same people there to help supposedly! Now what happens to those sanctioned people they lose money that they cannot afford. So these same poor staff your words are directly contributing to destitution in some cases death, starvation and hospitalisations.

        Sorry if you are complicit in causing destination, misery and many other issues I would not be so glib and yes there is a huge problem betewn the staff that have all the power and wield it like a damn club and clients that have no power! What’s the worst we can do oh complain whoopie!

        Maybe most are trying to help but and here is the huge but I have found over the last 20+ years of being a disabled man forced into dealing with the DWP many people who tell untruths, cut you off the damn phone after hours of getting through whoops oh well there ring back.. Plus I could fill a story 4 or 5 times the size above of the antics, untruths or downright awfull, inhumane and worst behaviours from the DWP staff and I bet I am not alone. I help run a large disability support group online and there is always another story regarding the DWP…

        So if you want to defend them fine but you also have to admit there are many bad actors or just time servers who really don’t care and barely want even to do the job they get that bonus for this? Last time I checked the clients don’t get a bonus now do we…

        So until there is a true level playing field the staff are always going to be able to sanction clients maybe most don’t follow the rules but many times it was the DWP in the wrong! Do we get compensated nope sucks to be you? So the client is greatly affected by their bonuses and that is not a good system in any shape or form now is it…

    3. Low- and no-income people include many who have been evicted from their rented residence while, if not due to, suffering significant mental health tribulations; and from there they can become long-termed homeless.

      Seemingly, some people can be considered disposable. Even to an otherwise democratic and relatively civilized nation, their worth(lessness) is measured basically by their ‘productivity’ or lack thereof. Those people may then begin perceiving themselves as worthless and accordingly live their daily lives more haphazardly.

      Albeit perhaps on a subconscious level, a somewhat similar inhuman(e) devaluation is observable in external attitudes toward the daily civilian lives lost in protractedly devastating war zones and famine-stricken nations; the worth of such life will be measured by its ‘productivity’, overabundance and/or the protracted conditions under which it suffers. Thus, those people can eventually receive meagre column inches on the back page of the First World’s daily news.

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