Termination of access to free NHS prescriptions for Universal Credit claimants in certain situations

Mae'r ymateb i'r cais hwn yn hwyr iawn. Yn ôl y gyfraith, ym mhob amgylchiad, dylai HM Treasury fod wedi ymateb erbyn hyn. (manylion). Gallwch gwyno drwy yn gofyn am adolygiad mewnol.

Dear HM Treasury,

I am writing to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to HM Treasury regarding a policy change announced in November 2023 that pertains to the termination of access to free NHS prescriptions for Universal Credit claimants in certain situations. Specifically, I would like to request information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as outlined below.

FoI Request:

I request any documents or information held by the Chancellor's Office at HM Treasury that pertain to the evaluation of the safety and necessity of the policy change announced in November 2023 regarding the termination of access to free NHS prescriptions for Universal Credit claimants in certain situations. This should include any reports, assessments, or internal documents related to the decision-making process.

Background Information:

On 16th November 2023, The Treasury announced "stricter sanctions" for individuals "who should be looking for work but aren't." These sanctions are intended to include "targeting disengaged claimants by closing the claims of individuals on an open-ended sanction for over six months and solely eligible for the Universal Credit standard allowance, ending their access to additional benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid."

We are requesting this information because we have concerns that the threat to terminate access to free prescriptions for claimants managing their illnesses may have unintended consequences, such as claimants discontinuing their medication, ending their Universal Credit claims, falling into vulnerable situations, or facing adverse health outcomes. Similarly, on 6th April 2023, a report suggested that benefit sanctions may lead claimants to find work less quickly and earn less when they do.

Public Interest:

It is in the public interest to release the information we are requesting, particularly considering the United Nations' previous findings of "evidence of grave and systemic abuses against UK disabled people" in violation of the CRPD protocol. We seek assurance that such actions will not be repeated.

We believe that transparency and accountability are essential in addressing these concerns, and the public deserves access to information related to government policies that have a direct impact on vulnerable populations.

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK Lies and Corruption

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Secret report that government tried to hide reveals flaws with Tory love for sanctioning benefit claimants
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/s...

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

See also our request for this type of information from other government departments

Cabinet Office:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...
DWP:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

FOI Requests, HM Treasury

Our ref: FOI2023/18894

Dear Amanda Hart,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, HM Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Amanda Hart

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear HM Treasury,

Formal Request for Internal Review - FOI2023/18894

I am writing to formally request an internal review of the response dated 19th December 2023 in regard to my Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) request, bearing reference FOI2023/18894. While I acknowledge the prompt attention given to my request, I assert that your response exhibits legal inadequacies, inconsistencies, and glaring omissions that necessitate rigorous reconsideration.

Legal Failings:

Section 35(1)(a) Exemption: I assert that the invocation of the section 35(1)(a) exemption, pertaining to the development of Government policy, lacks justification in the context of this case. The compelling public interest in upholding transparency and ensuring accountability concerning the implications of policy alterations for vulnerable populations, as well as the potential ramifications for public health, decisively outweighs any interest in non-disclosure. The far-reaching societal consequences of this policy mandate that information not be withheld, lest it impede informed and meaningful public discourse.

Other Failings:

Public Interest Assessment: The response includes a statement suggesting that the Information Commissioner acknowledges the necessity of affording some degree of freedom in policy development. However, it neglects to provide a cogent rationale for why this particular case warrants such exemption. A clear elucidation is required, illustrating how the disclosure of the information would negatively impact policy development for transparency to prevail.

Lack of Public Interest Test Details: The response inadequately supplies the requisite details demonstrating a comprehensive public interest test. In the pursuit of transparency and accountability, the process and criteria applied in conducting the public interest test demand explicit elucidation.

Alternative Solutions: The response regrettably bypasses the exploration of viable alternative solutions, such as the judicious redaction of sensitive information while facilitating the release of the remaining content. This could serve as a pragmatic compromise, striking a balance between transparency and policy development.

Consultation with Stakeholders: Notably absent from the response is any reference to consultations with stakeholders or the engagement of pertinent experts in the course of the decision-making process. Such consultations are a fundamental component of sound policy development.

The repercussions of refraining from disclosing this information are profoundly significant:

1 Public Mistrust: Non-disclosure risks undermining public trust in government decision-making processes, especially when the interests of vulnerable individuals are at stake.

2 Uninformed Policy Discourse: Without access to the pertinent information, the discourse and debate surrounding this policy change may lack the essential evidentiary foundation, impeding the formulation of well-informed opinions.

3 Risk of Unintended Consequences: Failure to subject the policy to public scrutiny may inadvertently perpetuate unintended consequences, such as adverse health outcomes for Universal Credit claimants.

Public Interest Statements:

1 The public has a right to understand the basis for decisions affecting the healthcare access of vulnerable individuals.

2 Transparency is crucial to ensure accountability in government policies.

3 Disclosure would enable public scrutiny and informed debate on the impact of the policy change.

4 The release of information can help identify potential unintended consequences and improve future policy decisions.

5 Informed citizens can contribute positively to the development of government policies.

6 Ensuring access to essential healthcare is a matter of public interest.

7 Protecting the rights and well-being of Universal Credit claimants is of paramount importance.

8 Disclosure fosters trust in government decision-making.

9 The potential public health implications of the policy change warrant transparency.

10 Public interest extends to understanding how government decisions align with international standards and human rights.

11 Transparency promotes fairness in the implementation of policies.

12 Disclosure allows for the assessment of the government's commitment to upholding human rights.

13 A well-informed public can contribute to more effective policymaking.

14 Citizens have a right to know how their tax contributions are being used.

15 Transparency is essential to address concerns raised by the United Nations regarding the treatment of disabled people in the UK.

16 The United Nations found reliable evidence of grave and systemic abuse against UK's disabled people, emphasising the urgency of transparency.

17 Public discourse on policy changes should be based on evidence and information.

18 Informed public debate can lead to more balanced and equitable policies.

19 Disclosure is consistent with the principles of good governance.

20 Transparency strengthens the social contract between citizens and their government.

I hereby request a comprehensive internal review of the decision, with due consideration to the articulated points in this correspondence. The urgency of transparency, coupled with the potential adverse consequences of non-disclosure, necessitates a thorough reevaluation. I anticipate a timely response.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

Yours faithfully

Amanda Hart
Stop UK lies and Corruption.

FOI Requests, HM Treasury

Dear Amanda Hart,

Thank you for your email regarding your request for an internal review.

I can confirm that your review request was received on 20th December and
is receiving attention under our reference IR2023/21025.

There is no statutory deadline for responding to internal review requests.

However, in line with the Information Commissioner's guidelines and the
[1]2018 FOI Code of Practice, we aim to complete  internal reviews within
20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ  
[2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, HM Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Amanda Hart,

Please find attached a response to your recent IR request.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

Reported to ICO 23rd January 2024 with a list of failings.

Gadawodd Amanda Hart anodiad ()

ICO informed us the case ref for this matter is IC-284146-H8L0.