Universal Credit head Howard Shiplee off sick

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.   

5 responses to “Universal Credit head Howard Shiplee off sick

  1. Blair S Ashworth

    When, and if, claimants are migrated to the new system, what formulae will be used to calculate each person’s benefit total? Because if they just use existing data to populate the new database, why bother at all?

    Also, if they hope to generate all-new bottom-lines for existing claimants – then they need to retain the old system (including all data) otherwise DWP staff have nothing to refer back to when decisions have to be made.

    What a waste of taxpayers’ money.


  2. I would like to join in with Tony et al in wishing Mr Shiplee a speedy recovery.

    I did however question the wisdom of his appointment at the time on this blog. In reality the only real similarity in what he has managed before and UC is the word project. I have long held and espoused the belief that IT projects, especially those involving development cannot be manged by individuals who although might be highly capable man managers have no understanding of IT in general and the entire development process specifically. His lack of knowledge is well demonstrated in his responses alongside IDS to the WPC. I am sure he is a nice man but I suspect he will be asking himself is it worth it.


  3. I have logged the names and dates of all 6 Universal Credit SROs here:




  4. At least he won’t have to suffer the indignity of the effects of his project.
    Maybe he ought to go through the system anonymously to test it? It would be the first time it has been tested since it was dreamt up.


  5. has he had his atos appointment yet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.