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Brits on benefits: 'Dole office site only works on PCs over 10 YEARS OLD'

UK.gov snubs blind, disabled and pensioners

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Benefits claimants signing up for disability living allowance online are told they cannot use modern browsers, smartphones or even Macs.

The Department for Work and Pensions' microsite - available at www.dwp.gov.uk/eservice - states that folks should use it for claiming attendance allowance, disability living allowance and expats' state pensions from the public purse.

However, the microsite will not work with Apple Macs nor other Unix-based systems (such as Linux), according to the DWP itself. Neither is the site compatible with smartphones - or any Internet Explorer installation more modern than version 6, released back in the heady days of 2001.

Blind claimants attempting to submit a claim for disability living allowance are told they may "wish to claim in another way". The compatibility warning on the site states that it may not work with the JAWS or Supernova screen readers, both of which were developed for blind computer users.

Expats using Windows Vista while trying to claim their state pensions are also "likely to have problems", according to the DWP. Anyone stuck on the web forms can call a hotline or fill out a lot of paperwork.

Speaking to El Reg, benefits claimant Amanda Leek said: "It shouldn't be this hard to figure out if you're going to afford food in the foreseeable future, especially when the website pretends to be helpful."

Brits clicking on a link to claim disability living allowance from the DWP's new home on the shiny GOV.UK portal are taken to the microsite and greeted with the following warning:

DWP browser compatibility warning

Achtung: Thou shalt not use thy modern tech here

Clicking "tell me more" displays a list of operating systems and browsers the site is designed to be compatible with, complete with the following warning:

Many of these [browsers and operating systems] are no longer available.

The full list of compatible operating systems and browsers seems to have been based on the pages of Which? circa 2005:

Microsoft Windows 98:
  • Internet Explorer versions 5.0.1, 5.5 and 6.0
  • Netscape 7.2

Microsoft Windows ME

  • Internet Explorer version 5.5 and 6.0
  • Netscape 7.2

Microsoft Windows 2000

  • Internet Explorer version 5.0.1, 5.5 and 6.0
  • Netscape 7.2
  • Firefox 1.0.3
  • Mozilla 1.7.7

Microsoft Windows XP

  • Internet Explorer 6.0
  • Netscape 7.2
  • Firefox1.0.3
  • Mozilla 1.7.7

Punters viewing the microsite were fuming on Twitter and other social networks over the DWP's lack of technical savvy.

There was also confusion over whether the creaky microsite was part of the government's new web-only, GOV.UK-hosted Universal Credit system of handouts, which has just gone live in Manchester and will be rolled out nationwide in October:

But the DWP microsite isn't intended for Universal Credit claimants, who have a separate website that is supposedly compatible with all browsers and operating systems. The new Universal Credit system aims to overhaul Britain's dole office by merging six benefit handouts into one regular monthly payment that can be claimed and managed online.

In the run up to October's rollout, the DWP moved its digital presence to the centralised GOV.UK website on 17 April, but its out-dated microsite for claiming cash is still live for now. The department insists its Universal Credit site will work with the latest pocket and desktop tech.

And not all claimants are happy with the supposedly more user-friendly GOV.UK-hosted DWP portal. Leek added: "Finding out which application you should fill in, what you would get and whether it is worth claiming between redundancies, part-time work, full-time or variable self-employment is too complicated." ®

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