Thousands of employees at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been disciplined for inappropriate use of the department's IT systems, including snooping on benefit records.
Since 2008 some 110 DWP employees with access to files on pensions, child support payments, tax credits, Job Seekers Allowance and other benefits have been issued with oral warnings for “inappropriate access or browsing of personal/customers records”, according to a freedom of information request seen by the Telegraph.
More than 1,100 workers have received official warnings in the past five years for snooping on sensitive benefit records.
Hundreds of employees were also disciplined over inappropriate use of emails and the internet, including visiting pornography. Violating privacy and internet policies led to 1,487 sackings over the five year period in DWP.
DWP is currently managing one of the biggest IT projects in the country with Universal Credit, which has faced a number of problems and resulted in writing off millions of pounds of IT assets. It was revealed earlier this week that it is now facing a skills crisis after the Government Digital Service backed away from the project over growing tensions between the two departments.
A DWP spokesman said: “DWP is the biggest Government department and over this five-year period we have employed over 150,000 people with the vast majority adhering to the professional standards.
“DWP takes inappropriate use of IT systems very seriously which is why we monitor daily usage and have robust policies in place to deal with the minority of cases of abuse.”