By Tony Collins
Howard Shiplee, who joined the Department for Work and Pensions in May 2013 as Director General of the Universal Credit Programme, has been off sick since shortly before Christmas.
A DWP spokeswoman told Campaign4Change that Shiplee is in regular touch with the programme through conference calls and would be back working full-time on UC as soon as he is fit.
Today [3 February 2013] Shiplee’s boss Iain Duncan Smith is due to appear again before the Work and Pensions Committee to answer questions about UC. The DWP spokeswoman said Shiplee is looking forward to returning to the UC project.
The job of Director General of UC is well paid – £258,750 according to the Daily Mail. But it may also be the most stressful IT-related job in central government. UC is probably the most high profile of all IT-enabled projects in central government and it faces many challenges, according to the National Audit Office. IDS is determined that the IT will succeed – though whether he will still be the minister in charge of UC after the general election next year is uncertain.
Shiplee is well regarded – he was previously the construction director for the successful 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Keeping his reputation for successful delivery on the UC project will not be easy. Campaign4Change wishes him a speedy recovery.