The £20,000 benefit bonus rewards for the metropolitan elite at the Department of Work and Pensions

neil couling

Neil Couling – £145,000 a year


Last week I had a story in the Sunday Mirror about top bonuses and pay rises for five of the most senior  and well paid civil servants at the Department of Work and Pensions over the last two years.

The information was published in the annual report and accounts  of the DWP released last month. These same accounts were qualified for the 29th year  running according to the the National Audit Office – because of fraud and error in payouts to claimants rendered them inaccurate and wrong.



Sir Robert Devereux pic credit Twitter

Sir Robert Devereux – £190,000 a year Pic credit : Twitter

The bonuses announcement came at the same time as 31 Labour MPs had called for a pause in the roll out of the ministry’s new Universal Credit  programme – which replaces five benefits – because of reported chaos in its administration leaving some claimants without money for up to six weeks. One of those 31 MPs, Kevan Jones, who represents Durham North said the bonuses were a ” reward for failure”.

He described them as “an insult to many of my constituents who are already living on the breadline. In my constituency they plan to introduce this in November which could leave thousands of people without money in the run up to Christmas.”


Mayank Prakash £220,000 a year including £20,00 bonus Pic credit: DWP Digital

Within days of the publication of the story the FDA ( the First Division Association) which represents the top civil servants attacked the article in a report in Civil Service World.

Jawad Raza, FDA national officer for DWP, said officials should not be used as targets by political opponents of the system simply for doing their jobs.

“The suggestion that these civil servants have been ‘rewarded for failure’ shows a blatant disregard for the facts regarding their pay and

Jeremy Moore pic credit

jeremy moore – £135,000 plus £20,000 bonus

wilfully misrepresents the true complexity of their roles,” he said.

“Senior civil servants have delivered billions of pounds worth of savings since 2010 with an ever reducing workforce. These are highly skilled professionals working in challenging circumstances and they deserve to be adequately remunerated without having their names and faces spread across news pages.”

Sorry Jawad I think there is more to this.

The five civil servants are Sir Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions; Neil


Andrew Rhodes – £140,000 a year plus £15,000 bonus

Couling, director general of universal credit; Jeremy Moore, director of strategy; Mayank Prakash, director general of digital technology and Andrew Rhodes, director of operations have received between £10,000 and £20,000 each .They are nearly all paid more than Theresa May, the PM.

The bonuses were awarded for “ top performance “ and “ leadership “when the rest of Whitehall is limited to one per cent pay rises and many benefits have been frozen.

Sir Robert last year received up to £20,000 extra on a salary of up to £185,000 a year. This year he hasn’t received any bonus but his basic salary has moved to £190,000 a year.

Neil Couling, who is directly responsible for universal credit, got a bonus of up to £20,000 last year on a salary of £125,000 a year. This year instead of a bonus his salary has jumped by £20,000 to £145,000 a year.

Mayank Prakash, director of digital strategy has received a bonus of up to £20,000  this yearon top of salary of £200,000 taking his annual salary to £220,000 .

Jeremy Moore, director of strategy, has received bonuses two years running –  totalling up to £40,000 over the two years – taking his total salary to £155,000 a year.

Andrew Rhodes, director of operations has received a £10-15,000 bonus this year, taking his salary to £155,000 a year. He also claimed £37,600 in travel expenses.

The ministry insist that all these pay rises were decided objectively by line managers.

In a statement it said:

Line managers are required to make an evidence-based and objective assessment over whether objectives have been met, not met or exceeded. 

 Individual performance is assessed by the individual’s line manager through an appraisal discussion, with supporting evidence from a range of stakeholders.

But apart from Sir Robert – whose bonus was decided by Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary – the Department declined to say who these line managers are and which outside organisations and people recommended they should get bonuses. The bad news for the DWP is that Kevan Jones plans to table a Parliamentary Question next month to find out who.

Now the FDA has a point that compared to the top of the  private sector they are badly paid. A report put out by the House of Commons library revealed that the top 3000 bankers are ALL earning over £884,000 a year – which makes £20,000 sound small beer. But if anything that reflects that huge growth of inequality in Britain.

At other end of society how effective are these five top men ( note they are all men) in delivering what they are supposed to do. All are responsible in one way or another for the delivery of Universal Credit.

At present they are using Newcastle-upon-Tyne – to roll out the full effect of Universial Credit.

Catherine McKinnell , Labour MP for Newcastle North, said:“ My office has been deluged with complaints from constituents about a Universal Credit system that is clearly struggling to cope and failing to deliver the support that claimants need in anything like an orderly or timely fashion.”

Her debate can be read here.  Suffice to say it reveals a very sorry picture. The  new IT system means people can’t talk to a human. It has  a verification process that requires claimants to produce photographic identification such as a passport or driving licence, “which many simply do not possess and certainly cannot afford, even though some have been in receipt of benefits for several years.”

“I also have numerous examples of Universal Credit claims being shut down before they should be; of documentation being provided to the DWP, at the constituent’s cost, and repeatedly being lost or even destroyed; and of totally conflicting, often incorrect, information being provided to constituents about their claims.”

For a time the ministry effectively banned MPs from taking up cases by making impossible verification demands before they would talk about it.

What this shows to me is a growing disconnect between the people at the top – who are computer savvy, have nice centrally heated homes, no problems with bills, can afford expensive holidays, and can’t conceive of anyone not having a passport – designing a system for poor, dispossessed, desperate people without any understanding of how the world works for them.

It was this disconnect between the elite and the poor  in the USA that led to the rise of Donald Trump and I suspect this huge gulf between the Metropolitan elite – whom top Whitehall civil servants are part – and the provincial poor is in the end going to propel Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.


14 thoughts on “The £20,000 benefit bonus rewards for the metropolitan elite at the Department of Work and Pensions

  1. This us absolutely disgusting. They are robbing disabled people of their benifits and paying these people for telling other people what to do ! I am at present one of the disabled people who had a report fro. ATOS that was full of lies fighting to get motobility payment. They give a single mother of 8 children who has never worked £26000 which she was able to buy a horse . What about the children’s father he should be made to pay. She chose to have that many children , I didn’t chose to become disabled and have to fight DWP for some money. It’s awful that these mens are allowed to have a bonus on top of their wages. While the rest of us scrimp by !!! Well done DWP it’s nice to know where all the benefit money you stolen from disabled people who need it are going to these fat cats !!!!!


  2. Seeing the sums that these men have been awarded for a job so-called ‘well done’, really sticks in my craw.
    How can anybody justify those kinds of sums, in a country whose working people are having to go to food banks, because their pay is so low, there’s no money after rent and bills to buy food?
    The reports this summer, of food banks running out of food, gives a truly clear and brutal picture of the reality that everyone who is either unemployed, ill/ disabled, elderly, or in such a low-waged job, that they can’t hope to be able to meet all of their financial obligations, has to face every week – so for men who have more than enough to live very comfortably, and who are actually failing to do that job they are being given such a huge bonus to do, is a slap in the face for everyone suffering under the Tory regime!
    The fact that they boast of making billions of pounds of savings, makes it an even sicker thing to see – considering those savings have come at the cost of thousands of lives cut short before their time, and too many working families driven to the edge to survive!


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  4. It all stinks, so what’s new. I, for one am so disillusioned with ALL the so called “Powers That Be” My suggestion for when the General Election comes around again is to put “None Of The Above” on every ballot paper in the land. Yeah radical idea I know, any takers?


    • Georgina, such a “radical idea” will only leave those very Powers That Be all the more happy. Because you’ve thrown away a vote that could have gone against them. I’m sorry to tell you this, but this abstaining from being involved in voting is how Trump got elected in the US. Spread as disillusion amongst young and undecided voters so that the Republicans, who vote in every single election, win despite being a minority of the populace.


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  9. I have just signed on the sick with depression until Aug I am 64,lost my pension at 60,had to sell my house which I used a lot of the collateral to bring up my children and always worked full time,but was not enough coming in to keep everything going,no holidays etc,so what was left had to keep myself for over a year to pay rent at £525 a month because I couldn’t get housing from council,and Bill’s etc,now been on the sick because of depression,until Aug now they want me to fill out a form for capability for work,I have worked all my life ,and never claimed ,what a joke they are that is all I can say…


    • So very sorry to hear your very upsetting story Sylvia. I too am in an impossible situation because of these “jobs worth” people who ordinarily couldn’t run a bath but for some God only knows the reasons they get these top positions ( I went to school with people like these, sneaky slimy snakes). I am soooo frustrated by the whole scam. Just today I appealed a PiP decision that was made last year, with 14months of worry, debt build up and failing health. I was in front of 6 people in the room and me……Talk about intimidating and each one asking the same questions different ways and telling me that “they aren’t trying to trick me ! ” REALLY? They are Narcissistic self opinionated bombastic little shytes, who, should I ever see them on the street now I will shout them out for what they are……At 67 years of age that sort of talk should NOT be coming out of my mouth, I should be calm caring and loving enjoying my latter years But all I want to do is beat the living daily lite out of them…………..BUT…… INSTEAD I HEXT THEM…..I WISH THEM EVERYTHING THEY HAVE BROUGHT TO MY DOOR X 10……. Just saying….


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