Tuesday, 30 April 2013

How I accidentally started a Universal Credit myth

So I was browsing away yesterday and I came across this rather unbelievable website.

This is the official government website for online claims for three current benefits: Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendence Allowance (AA) and overseas pension.

I was amazed and appalled to discover that it is almost impossible to claim online unless you have a computer from the stone age. The website states that you will not be able to use the system or will experience significant difficulties if you use:
  • Macs or other Unix-based systems 
  • Windows Vista (and seemingly Windows 7 and 8)
  • Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, 
  • Chrome, Safari or Firefox,
  • a smartphone. 
  • Jaws or Supernova screen readers
People with any of the above systems must obtain or print out and complete a paper form.

I found this immensely worrying given that Universal Credit is being rolled out today as an online claims only, without the possibility of a paper claim. If this is the quality of IT service we can expect, there are going to be big issues. Thankfully there is no evidence that the new Universal Credit IT system has any of the above problems.

EDIT: SEPTEMBER 05: It would appear the promised working IT system simply isn't operational yet, with £34m already written off and claims having to be checked by hand. I suppose that solves the issue...

EDIT: NOVEMBER 09: It seems the IT system is mostly irrecoverable and will have to be started again from scratch with anything from between £140 million and £300 million.
I have by now long since given up updating my "Universal Credit, but we're still on track!" blog post as fiasco after fiasco has come to light.

Regardless, finding the situation farcical beyond belief, I sent out the following tweet:
You can now claim #DLA online,as long as you don't use:a smartphone,MAC,Unix,Vista,Chrome,Safari,Firefox,IE7,8,9 or10 http://www.dwp.gov.uk/eservice/need.asp …
This initially caused a lot of amusement with people commenting that maybe carrier pigeons would be useful or stone and flint.

However when I came back the next morning I discovered that, perhaps due to the coincidence of Universal Credit being rolled out today people had mixed the two stories up.

There are now many people running with the misconception that Universal Credit can only be claimed with the above  restrictions.
As far as I know this is not the case.

The myth that you need Windows XP and can't use Internet Explorer appears to be truly running now though and I'm very much afraid that it will be impossible to stop.

EDIT: The DWP have now released the following tweet:

works with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, recent versions of IE as well as smartphones and tablets.

I just hope enough people see it!


  1. Last week I tried to apply for careers allowance on line. I left work last month and the form asked about my last pay slip and monies owed to me. It also asked for my email address in the text box I inserted that the firm owed me £400 wages and £50 expenses. I also added my email address. The form kept failing and I was told to ring the DWP help desk. Apparently, the form cannot accept the symbols ( ) - £ or @. I had to go back and edit out all non standard symbols. Then the devious form hid the page where I declared monies owed. It took 4 hours. I submitted a freedom of information request asking howmany forms were started on line, how many we're finished... Tony.seaton@btinternet.com

  2. Don't know what the situation is now, but when I worked for Carers Allowance - about five years ago - once you submitted the form it would be printed off in the office and posted to you to sign and return....