Thousands of Universal Credit advisors who were hired to form Britain’s ‘biggest ever Jobs Army’ are now having to reapply for their jobs – with one telling the Mirror they are “let down” and “blindsided”
A staggering 12,000 Universal Credit advisors who were hired to create Britain’s “biggest ever Jobs Army” have been told to reapply for their own jobs.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) chiefs wrote to thousands of Work Coaches last week offering them an “opportunity to apply for a permanent role”.
The number of Work Coaches doubled from 13,500 to 27,000 during the Covid pandemic as Universal Credit claims surged.
But many are on fixed-term contracts, and senior officials admit some face being let go when those deals end in June.
An e-mail seen by the Mirror told staff: “We hope you will decide to continue your career with DWP and apply for this opportunity.”
So many are hit that virtual sessions – which have a limit of 3,000 participants – were split into alphabetical groups by surname.
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One work coach – whose role involves sitting in Jobcentres across Britain helping claimants into jobs – said they felt “let down” and “blindsided”.
They told the Mirror: “Some managers have suggested those affected should feel ‘lucky’ to have this opportunity.
“They have said they will try and keep ‘the majority’ but nothing more specific than that.”
The job fears mainly affect ‘EO’ grade Work Coaches. Union chiefs said in December that “nearly all” the 6,000 ‘AO’ grade coaches would stay.
DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield suggested last year that the total of 27,000 work coaches could fall by thousands, to “well above 20,000″.
He said the number would “fall away” because fewer people were in the most intensive work search groups on Universal Credit.
Yet it comes days after Tory ministers announced a ‘Way to Work’ target, to move 500,000 Universal Credit claimants into work by June.
Claimants will be forced to take jobs that aren’t in their specialist area four weeks after making a claim, or have their benefits stopped.
The DWP confirmed 12,000 fixed-term work coaches have been told to reapply if they want permanent jobs.
Final decisions are expected in mid-March.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We recognise the important contribution our staff on fixed-term contracts have made over the pandemic period and expect to be able to offer permanent roles to the majority of those, as we continue to deliver our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs.”