DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Our Ref: 634
24 February 2014
Dear F. Walker,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on 10 February 2014.
I'd like to know what the rules on taking support to jobcentre appointments,
in particular signing on are. I suffer from anxiety and my doctor has given
me a note saying I suffer from anxiety and should have someone at all
jobcentre appointments. My advisor was unhappy with this and I would like
to know if I am allowed support or not.
Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can
have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf.
DWP will treat the person acting on behalf of the claimant with the same customer standards
as the claimant. The person acting on behalf of the claimant is expected to maintain the same
behaviour standards as the claimant and treat our staff with courtesy.
Claimants can have a variety of people accompany them such as Representatives,
Appointees, Corporate acting bodies or Personal acting bodies.
Guidance for staff includes the information provided below:
A customer representative is any person or organisation acting on behalf of or making
enquiries for the customer. The representative could be helping a customer in several ways,
including progress chasing, helping them make a claim, seeking an explanation of entitlement
and how it has been decided, representing them with a reconsideration or appeal, or helping
them manage their finances. This can be at any stage of the customer’s business with DWP.
Representatives may include:
advice or welfare rights organisations
professionals such as social workers, community nurses or doctors
family members or friends
A representative is not an official appointee (Attorneys, Deputies), who should be dealt
with as if they were themselves the customer. Please note
MPs - note that customers' own MPs are assumed to have consent to act and
information can be disclosed in response to their enquiries. Please refer to the
Personal Information Policy Guide for more information
Appointees, deputies and Powers of Attorney – these are legally empowered to
act on behalf of the customer, will be expected to answer security questions, and
consent to disclose information is not required
There are also Corporate Appointees, usually Local Authority (LA) staff, who look
after the affairs of people in homes. They will not have sufficient detail about
customers to enable them to answer security questions, and therefore the
principles outlined in Implicit Consent, below, should be used in deciding whether
to provide information
Is the representative acting with the consent of the customer?
If the call is from a representative, ensure that they are acting on behalf of the customer:
can you check consent with the customer, either in person or by phone?
can you accept that there is 'implicit consent'?
is there written, signed authority from the customer? Note that you should not
automatically insist on seeing a written or faxed authority before disclosing
If you can answer 'yes' to any one of the above, then you can proceed
Written authorities to disclose information
Written authority is necessary where implicit consent cannot be established, or where a
request for information is received in writing from a representative. Written, signed authority
should be requested only when consent cannot be established by other means.
In these cases, ask the representative to complete the ‘Authority to Disclose’ template, which
the customer must sign. The representative should then post or fax the signed form to the
relevant DWP office; you should provide the correct address and/or fax number. Faxed
authorities and authorities containing electronic signatures are both acceptable. Local Authority
representatives should follow the agreed Security procedures for emailing forms to approved
secure email addresses.
Written authority does not last indefinitely in these cases, but covers a particular piece of
business. The authority to act should be treated as current for the whole process of a new
claim or change of circumstances, including any follow-up reconsideration process. A separate
authority is required for an appeal, unless the existing authority specifically covers the appeals
If written authority is received, it should be recorded in notepad, if possible. It should be
removed after the particular piece of business, including reconsideration, is completed.
Where there is no valid written authority, or the customer is not present to confirm consent
verbally, staff should use their experience and judgement to decide whether the call has implicit consent
to act on behalf of the customer.
Staff must ask questions and use judgement based on the answers in order to determine
whether or not the caller is a genuine representative, and implicit consent can be assumed.
In most cases it will be quite clear from the information already held by the caller, and the
questions they ask, that they are helping the customer with benefit claim, and that information
can be provided.
Where implicit consent cannot
be established, then written consent is necessary. Do not
disclose any customer information and explain that on this occasion it will be necessary for the
caller to provide written consent as an authority to act on behalf of the customer and signpost
them to the ‘Authority to Disclose’ template or A42 form. Consult your line manger for support
Do not assume consent is for an indefinite period - authority to represent the customer
is considered to be for a particular item of business
Corporate Acting Body (CAB).
A Corporate Acting Body is not a named individual, but an organisation appointed to act for a
customer, this could be a:
Area Health Authority
firm of solicitors.
This list is not exhaustive.
Each customer is allowed only one CAB at a time and the following can be CABs:
Deputy - appointed by the Court of Protection in England and Wales
Controller - appointed by the Office of Care and Protection in Northern Ireland
Attorney - appointed by the customer and legally supported
Appointee - appointed by an officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State.
A court appointed CAB normally takes precedence over any
appointment made by an officer
acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. For example, if the customer has a Personal Acting
Body (PAB) whose status appears above appointee in the above list, an officer (acting on
behalf of the Secretary of State) cannot usually authorise an appointee to administer the
customer's affairs relating to benefits, pensions and allowances.
The only exception is when the existing CAB no longer has authority to act, or the Department
has received written confirmation that the CAB no longer wants to act on the customer's
The customer's CAB is responsible for reporting all changes in:
the customer's circumstances
their own circumstances that the Department may require.
It is important to determine whether an individual is acting in a personal or a professional
Personal Acting Body
A Personal Acting Body is a named person appointed to look after all or some aspects of a
This is called an appointment to act. The person or organisation appointed to act is called an
appointee. At any one time, there must be only one appointee acting on the customer's behalf
for all benefits.
If the claimant is incapable of managing their own benefit because of mental health issues and
the Secretary of State has appointed someone to act on their behalf, known as an appointee
(regulation 33 of the Social Security Claims and Payments Regulations 1987 refers), then that
person stands in the shoes of the claimant and we would actually expect that person to attend
appointments, interviews etc. There should be no action taken by DWP staff to prevent an
appointee so acting.
An appointee can be an:
individual, for example a friend or relative
organisation or representative of an organisation for example Local Authority
a limited company.
This list is not exhaustive.
Redress - Appeals and Complaints
DWP Appeals process and complaints process is available on Gov.uk
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number
DWP Central FoI Team
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act
If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing freedom-of-information-
email@example.com or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H
9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have
exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk