back to article Dept of Work and Pensions isn't working, says report

A report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman roasts the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for its poor information provision, poor record keeping and poor complaint handling. While noting that the DWP is a big department with wide-ranging responsibilities, it also reveals that just over one third of the …


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  1. IHateWearingATie
    Thumb Up

    Blimey a balanced article on government matters

    Good response to the report from El Reg I think. I suspect there will be other commenters along afterwards who don't understand the difficulties involved and compare it wrongly to the private sector. When you have an organisation of 100,000 people who by the nature of the business work with the most frustrating an difficult people in society then you are always going to have problems and employ a few muppets. Couple that with the CSA IT debacle (certainly not the fault of the front line staff - EDS hang your head in shame) and I don't think that they have done too bad considering!

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "The Department is developing systems to capture any Customer Insight it can and this includes feedback from complaints - particularly those more difficult to resolve complaints that reach our Independent Case Examiner or the Ombudsman."

    WTF does "capture any Customer Insight" mean?!?

    IT'S CALL FRICKING SUGGESTIONS AND COMPLAINTS!! Or FEEDBACK! Whoever wrote that should be taken out and flaming SHOT, as they personify all that is wrong with these mindless bureaucratic drones that cause this sort of problem in the first place!

    "serving as they do over 20 million customers at any one time... it is understandable that mistakes will happen. In fact, it is inevitable."

    Yes, mistakes happen. But then it's blind ARROGANCE, ADHERENCE TO "GUIDELINES" to cover their own arses, and COMPLETE LACK OF COORDINATION by moronic minions that drag them out to 4 years, and cause 28k's worth of lost payments! Incompetence should be punished, but this never seems to happen in the public sector. In fact judging from half the politicians, it's positively rewarded!

    But that's a different story, and I really should stop now before I get a FotW award.



  3. Hollerith

    It is complex and difficult, but so is running a retail business

    Insurance companies, supermarket chains, laptop vendors -- they all have millions of clients/customers and if they are good, they have a good feedback loop to make sure they are pleasing their customers pretty much all of the time. They screw up, too, but we all know that M&S pisses people off less often than DWP, because they can't afford not to. My short time in Govt taught me that if nothing bad will happen to you when you screw up, you will never have a reason to change.

  4. Osiris

    Support payments

    28 grand in support payments?!? What kind of timescale are we looking at here, 1 year, 2, 4?

    Time to quit my job and get down to the jobcenter methinks.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    April Fools!!

    Oh wait, no they really are an incompetent bunch of bureautwots.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Not to defend them, but is the private sector any better?

    "Insurance companies, supermarket chains, laptop vendors" I'm sure that those guys are not perfect, but by any means, to say that the private sector is better at listening to their customers is, at least for large organizations, not true. Much less for organizations that deal with a comparable size/segment customer base.

    The truth is that only the public sector is exposed to this level of auditing, and it's all right since it's being paid by taxpayer money and thus everybody has the right to see how they perform.

    Nobody has access to the "customer feedback" statistics of the private sector. The private sector is.... well, private, and you'll never hear from their horror stories unless the press highlights them.

    I'm not a Briton, but where I live the tendency to outsource public duties to the private sector is growing, always with the justification of having better service or lower cost, and the UK is often used as a model. Sorry, but I feel that this is not true in a lot of cases, and whatever reasons are used to do that almost always tend to prove wrong in the long run. Fortunately, there are already enough failed privatizations in the UK to be used as counterexamples.

  7. Luther Blissett

    The computers are ALWAYS right

    Garbage in garbage out? Don't know. Don't care. Clique and forget.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how many..

    of those complaints were from people who were verberally abusive on the phones anyway. I have a friend who works for DWP had a story from them recently that someone told them that there treatment of him was like "how the nazi's treated the jews".

    I bet most complaints were from idiots like that!

  9. IHateWearingATie


    The reason that M&S may have better customer care statistics (but as AC says, they are never published so we don't know) is that it is pretty hard to mess up selling someone a jumper, whereas its pretty easy to get a complaint when you're dealing with something as complex as income related benefits!

    Even banks aren't a direct comparison - although their transactions can be complex they can adjust their rules to exclude people who are just too much trouble to deal with or increase the risk in a process by simplifying the steps if they believe that the costs saved would be more than the losses incurred. That kind of trade off doesn't work as well given the scruitney of public resources.

    Also think on this - how much extra tax would you be prepared to pay to invest in providing a better level of customer service (cue "blah blah blah, stop wasting money" rant)

  10. John Smith Gold badge

    It's simple

    Computer says no.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British Gas anyone?

    How can you folk support them and claim it's a complex business so it's quite acceptable to make mistakes?

    Even after admitting their mistake to the client, they still continued to hound them. Now that isn't complex is it?

    DWP sound very much like British Gas and how they hound people when they haven't even got a gas supply, as was the case with my sister some years ago.

    Despite inviting British Gas to visit the property, their accepting there wasn't a gas supply, they still continued to hound her for another year.

  12. wheelie

    Tell me about it

    These clowns sent my fathers pension information to my address and then accused me of changing the details in 2007. I pointed out the flaw in their thinking as I didn't move into my current address until 2008!

    This is the latest in a long line of "clusterfcuks" because my father and I share the same name, strange as I thought the unique NI number was the key identifier, apparently not.

    It never fails to amaze me the level of ineptitude of government departments.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @ Wheelie

    And it also never fails to amaze me the imagination of parents who name their sons after their father, if nothing else for the many *hilarious* hours of confusion it must cause!

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