Public Services > Central Government

DWP to create new Universal Credit tech lead role

Neil Merrett Published 20 October 2016

Recruitment underway for entirely new position to oversee technology scope of the new digital service gradually being trialed as part of government’s delayed welfare reforms


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is looking to recruit a full service technology lead for the Universal Credit programme to maintain and implement new systems that will support the delayed welfare system reform.

Universal Credit has been devised as a means to merge employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit, and housing benefit into a single payment and is presently being provided in limited capacity on a system using older IT.

With a new digital solution that will replace the existing Universal Credit systems and manage these reforms presently delayed until 2022, the entirely new role will lead technology initiatives as a “key member of the multi-disciplinary team” delivering the project, according to the DWP.

This work is expected to include offering key leadership around both the current and future developments needed to create a reformed national welfare management system.

With an estimated salary of between £75,000 and £110,000, the successful candidate is expected to serve as technology business partner “for the varying areas encompassed under Universal Credit”.

This will include leading more than 200 individuals working across Universal Credit technology resources in developing data models, application programme interfaces (APIs) and testing services.

Alongside development work, the technology lead will also be required to work with architecture teams within the DWP to meet the department’s standards, while ensuring a highly resilient, secure system is in place.

Potential candidates for the role have until Monday November 14 to submit their interest, with short-listing expected to be complete by mid-November.  The interview process is then expected to take place first thing in 2017.

Viewed as one of the largest and most complex public sector transformation projects being undertaken in the European public sector, Universal Credit has faced a barrage of criticism over its management by the former coalition government that devised the project.

Although regarded to be under a more stable footing in recent years, concerns have been raised by the National Audit Office (NAO) and parliament’s Public Accounts Committee over the significant costs of ongoing delays.

After deciding to "reset" the programme back in 2013, the DWP committed to a 'twin-track' strategy plan where it would develop a new digital Universal Credit service at the same time as undertaking a national rollout of existing technologies designed for the programme. 

However, the proposed timeline for completion of the long delayed project, which even in late in 2014 was expected to end potentially by 2018, is at least expected to take four further years.

The department has argued that the latest tranche of additional time required for the project reflected a decision to expand the scope of the welfare reforms that was agreed in last year’s budget, requiring new functionality to be added to the system.

Related articles:

Universal Credit: moving “from disaster to recovery”

Universal Credit completion date shifted to 2022

PAC questions Universal Credit digital contingency plans

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