Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

All-digital Universal Credit system Creates Problems as DWP Goes Technology Tonto.

Image result for universal credit GDS Verify online identity system problems

Problems with the all-digital Universal Credit system were flagged up in January by Computer Weekly,

Thousands of Universal Credit claimants unable to use Gov.uk Verify to apply for benefit

Government research shows that barely one-third of benefits claimants can successfully apply for new Universal Credit digital service using flagship online identity system.

In March the same journal said,

Universal Credit project warned over Gov.uk Verify performance in 2015

Government project management experts warned as long ago as 2015 that a problem with GDS’s Verify online identity system could undermine the Universal Credit business plan.

In June Computer Weekly reported,

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has lost responsibility for digital identity policy, with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) taking over.

There are still problems for users as the comments here indicate all too well.

Neil says:

You have to reclaim Universal Credit digitally, online. So basically you have to create a Universal Credit account with a user name, password, and and answers to a couple of security question (one of which is asked when you try to log on). You will be asked how you want your notifications to be sent to you, email or phone, and will have to confirm you email address (by clicking a link of an email the DWP sends you) or using a code sent to you phone as a text message. After that you have to go through the usual routine about rent, savings etc. That bit of it is quite simple really. You then have to telephone a call centre to make an appointment to go back to the Jobcentre to produce evidence to corroborate your identity, although if you’re lucky you might do all of this with one visit. If all goes well you will then get a message sent to you telling you that you’ve been transferred and are fully on the full digital service.


It is a bit but what got me is having to take in documents to prove my identity again! I’ve been visiting the Jobcentre and claiming Universal Credit for months, had already proven my identity before, and then had to do it again when switching from the live system to the digital system. That’s proper nuts. But then most things are a bit mental when it comes to UC.


It’s not just Verification: the DWP is going Technology Tonto!

The ‘I’ reports, Serina Sandhu Friday September 14th

A Universal Credit claimant has alleged that his local Jobcentre ordered him to purchase a smartphone for his job search because his basic model was not good enough.

Arthur Chappell, who is unemployed, argued that his existing phone allowed him to answer calls and receive texts from employers and that he had a tablet with WiFi access to show the Jobcentre he was actively seeking work.

However an adviser told him he needed to own a smartphone by the end of September in time for his next session. The 56-year-old called the request “offensive… on many levels”.

With people starving and [dying of] suicide over the Universal Credit changes, forcing us to use credit-hungry phones is really beyond the pale,” he told i.

Basic phone is ‘good enough’

On 6 September, Mr Chappell attended his monthly meeting at the Friargate Jobcentre but was instead informed that he would be signed on to the Universal Credit “full service,” following the system’s roll-out in Preston. He was told he would need to bring his iPhone to the next briefing on 27 September.

Jobcentre offers to pay for phone

In a statement given to i, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “There is no requirement for Universal Credit (UC) claimants to own a mobile phone, nor is a mobile phone required for a UC claim. Computers and free WiFi are available in all Jobcentres to enable claimants to maintain their accounts.”

However Mr Chappell claims he was told in no uncertain terms that he needed a smartphone. When he raised that he could not afford one, the adviser told him they would pay £40 towards the device and specifically directed him to the Argos website.

One model can be found for £34.99. “He said they pay for the phone but not for the top-ups,” said Mr Chappell, who fears a smartphone will need topping up more frequently. “It’s obviously [going to cost] more than what my current arrangement is because I think they actually want me to have internet access on it as well which will obviously strain the budget a lot more than the unit I’m using now.”

The next passage is fair comment,

Mr Chappell said it felt as though the adviser wanted him to be able to search for a job round-the-clock with a smartphone.

“The official reply [from the DWP] seems to be about what they expect claimants to bring to the Universal Credit registration meeting while my adviser’s demand is going beyond the registration to a device he expects me to have on me 24/7.”

“It has been a standing rule that we should spend 35 hours a week job-seeking, though finding that many jobs in your skills range is extremely difficult. Having us contactable 24/7 by iPhone exceeds [this] boundary.

“Sleep, shower, being in a cinema, eating lunch, all go out the window if that all important call comes through. It is extremely intrusive and invasive. This isn’t remotely about improving our job searching. It’s about policing every move we make.


Mr Chappell said he considered the adviser’s request “highly bogus”.

He also admitted it had initially caused him concern. “I might get sanctioned and that will cause me big problems. It’s only now they’re making this transition [to full Universal Credit] that I feel threatened by it all.”

He worried about how the public would perceive Universal Credit claimants with smartphones. “It is also likely to make more people look on the unemployed as scroungers. ‘Ooh, look at them walking round with the best [smartphones].’ That we didn’t pay for them and in some cases don’t want them is beside the point. We will get stigmatised.”

Having a smartphone paid for seemed unnecessary when some claimants, including himself at times, could not afford the basics and used food banks, he added.

Mr Chappell, who hopes to be working again by mid-November and is due to have his book on pub signs published in April, said he was managing at the moment but having to fork out for more credit for a new phone could mean he had to use food banks again. He said he would be sending a letter of complaint to the DWP and would hold off purchasing the phone until he heard back.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2018 at 11:02 am

23 Responses

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  1. Even if you have a smartphone using a smartphone isn’t free, so if you’re on the internet a lot you will have to pay for the data that you’re accessing which might not be that cheap. Besides I’m as sure as I can be that nobody can order you to spend any of your money on phones or phone tariffs, least of all Jobcentre representatives. Arthur Chappell should tell them where to get off and complain to the DWP about the conduct of the person leaning on him to force him to spend his own money on something he doesn’t want.

    Neil Milbourne

    September 15, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    • As always the advisors will try it on where they can. I know someone with a white beard, who has been advised more than once to shave it off by his Jobcentre. So that he has a more ‘professional’ appearance.

      Fred Worsley

      September 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      • They once told me to get a new email because the one i was using (a song lyric, but not offensive) upset the delicate sensibilities of Tesco, apparently 😀

        ghost whistler

        September 15, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      • Tell your friend to tell his coach: Mind your own goddam business!

        jj joop

        September 15, 2018 at 7:40 pm

  2. Reblogged this on sdbast.


    September 15, 2018 at 2:27 pm

  3. The online Universal Credit application gives the option to attend a Jobcentre interview
    to provide proof of ID and NOT use Verify.

    Important claimants know situations they DO NOT need to use a digital option, such as using the
    UC Journal to put a work search record on or their CV.


    September 15, 2018 at 3:41 pm

  4. I would suggest people being told to buy smartphones by these ridiculous target hungry fascists ask to have these requests put into writing.

    Then take them to the CAB or your MP or both.

    This system is getting more and more farcical by the day.

    ghost whistler

    September 15, 2018 at 6:13 pm

  5. Here’s the Work Coach notes explaining the steps for transferring from the live service to the digital service.


    Thing is everybody on the live service has already proven their identity and given all relevant details about rent, savings etc., so why all the fuss? Why not simply get a claimant to create a UC account and then copy all the information stored about a claimant from the live service database to the full digital service database?

    Also, as far as Verify goes, I tried twice to create a digital identity using private provider services. The first time was with Experian which failed as there wasn’t enough information out there to confirm my identity. The second time was with CitizenSafe which failed when I got asked what date I created my bank account on: I was given four options and supposed to pick the date I created my bank account, decades ago, from the selection on offer. How many people could do that? How many of those reading these words can remember the exact date when they opened their bank account? Hardly anybody I would imagine.

    How can a national government screw up a functional social security system to this extent and set the bar so high in order to claim entitlement that an unacceptable number of needy people simply cannot get over that hurdle?

    Terrible really.

    Neil Milbourne

    September 16, 2018 at 6:31 am

    • Apologies. Wrong link. Here’s what Work Coaches are given about the “journey” of live service claimants to full digital service claimants.

      Click to access 112_Transfer_from_Live_Service_to_Full_Service_WC_v8.0.pdf

      With a simple thing made so complicated no wonder Work Coaches don’t know what they’re doing.

      Neil Milbourne

      September 16, 2018 at 7:06 am

    • Bank statements go back only seven (7) years. The only people who would be able to do that would be those ‘obsessive compulsive hoarder’ types you see in those documentaries who would be sure to have their very first bank statement hiding under the piles of clothes, old newspapers, empty cans, mouldy pizza left-overs, cat shit…

      C L Utter

      September 16, 2018 at 8:23 am

  6. We live of off ‘value’ ginger nuts 😉 A packet is only 25p 🙂 One packet a day for us and the two kids plus a ‘bonus’ pack on a Sunday as a special treat means our weekly food expenditure for a family of four is only £8 a week 😀

    The Skinflints

    September 16, 2018 at 7:38 am

  7. Have they resolved the issue for people without passports/driving licenses who can’t use this system?


    ghost whistler

    September 16, 2018 at 8:21 am

    • Yep. That’s what I’ve had to do – TWICE! You have to take in a cartload of other non-photo identifying documentation. I submitted my birth certificate, electric and water bills, letter from HMRC about my NI contributions, bank statement, tenancy agreement and a few other things that they didn’t bother to look at. As the people who saw me have been seeing me for months beforehand and paying me Universal Credit why the heck I had to re-identify myself to people who already know me seems quite bonkers.

      Neil Milbourne

      September 17, 2018 at 1:53 pm

  8. NS

    September 16, 2018 at 8:58 am

  9. NS

    September 16, 2018 at 9:00 am

  10. We have received sight of an email which was sent to DWP staff this week. It comes to us from a longstanding whistle-blower and asks staff to report benefit recipients who are attending #AUOB & similar Scottish indy marches. All this supposedly in the name of fraud prevention. pic.twitter.com/nBOySaecDd— SNP Politics News (@newssnp) September 14, 2018



    September 16, 2018 at 9:01 am

  11. Coachy told me to get a smartphone too. “You can get one for 200 quid in carphone warehouse 😉 ” “But I haven’t got £200 to spend on a smartphone 😦 ” “That’s what we pay you your benefits for 😉 “


    September 16, 2018 at 9:25 am

    • I don’t have a smartphone.

      The idea of forking out that kind of money (impossible) plus having monthly bills, is ridiculous.

      Andrew Coates

      September 16, 2018 at 9:59 am

  12. £100bn “citizens fund” should be created to spread the UK’s wealth more evenly claims Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, but it will never happen under any major British political party as they are all tarred with the same masonic brush.



    September 16, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    • Boaz!

      Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar

      September 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm

  13. Very Old Testament 😉


    September 16, 2018 at 8:22 pm


    In Scotland, the Housing Benefit element of Universal Credit was supposed to be paid directly to the landlord. But it turns out that only the biggest social landlord in Glasgow – the GHA – will receive direct payments.

    More chaos on the way with this “Social Hurricane”.


    Hurricane Chaos

    September 17, 2018 at 8:14 am

  15. superted

    September 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm

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