Change Director General and Senior Responsible Owner Universal Credit

Neil Couling CBE


Neil was appointed as Change Director General in April 2019 in addition to retaining accountability to Parliament as Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for Universal Credit.

Neil’s career started in a local benefits office administering claims for Income Support. His subsequent roles have included:

  • working in policy
  • Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State
  • several executive roles within Jobcentre Plus and its predecessors
  • Director General for the Universal Credit Programme since October 2014

Change Director General and Senior Responsible Owner Universal Credit

In his role as Change Director General Neil is accountable to the DWP Permanent Secretary for:

  • leadership of DWP’s Major Change Portfolio
  • delivering the overall objectives of the Major Change Portfolio
  • the agreed delegated Major Change Portfolio budget
  • leading Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) and Programme Directors in line with the corporate structure

As SRO for Universal Credit he is accountable to Parliament for implementing the government’s main welfare reform programme. This includes:

  • owning and communicating the vision of the programme
  • ensuring the implementation of Universal Credit is completed safely and securely
  • providing clear leadership to the programme team

Department for Work and Pensions

Previous roles in government

  • Director General, Universal Credit Programme