DWP Central Freedom of
6-12 Tothill Street
Our Ref: FOI2021/42776
23 June 2021
Dear Martin Wil iams,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) request received on 26 May. You wrote:
“In answer to FOI2021/15615 (available here
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/jcp_retrospective_verification_t ), it was stated
"I can also confirm that when Universal Credit applications were made in the initial period
of the pandemic, customers were advised that their application was being accepted
under specific COVID 19 regulations and that the Department would contact them at a
later date and ask for evidence to support their application
We are now re-visiting those cases and are re-applying the verification standards that
would have been in place at the time, had it not been for COVID-19. If the evidence does
not support the application it will be reviewed and revised to the correct entitlement and,
where appropriate, an overpayment calculated and put into recovery."
1. The "specific COVID 19 regulations" to which you refer- as far as we are aware, this
easement on standards of verification was not in fact carried out under any different
regulations but was simply a decision on the part of the Department to ease up on what it
considered acceptable evidence to verify identity etc. As such we are not aware of any
specific COVID 19 regulations.
2. Please also disclose the standard notification that was given to the group of claimants
described informing them of such specific COVID 19 regulations and the future
verification that would be applied.
3. Your previous response also indicates that "if the evidence does not support the
application it will be reviewed and revised to the correct entitlement and, where
appropriate, an overpayment calculated and put into recovery". I would be grateful if you
could indicate under which regulation such a revision would be carried out and what the
ground for revision would be?
4. Please disclose any standard wording used in making requests to reverify information
as part of this programme.
5. Finally, please disclose any guidance issued to staff specifically as part of this
programme on "closing" or revising awards in the event that a claimant does not respond
to such requests for information.”
We can confirm that we hold some information relating to your request.
In response to question 1 and 3, we can confirm that the Department holds information that
you have asked for. Some of the information is exempt under Section 21 of the FOI Act
because it is reasonably accessible to you and is in the public domain. The respective
information can be accessed it via the following links:
Question 1: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/371/made
Question 3: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/benefit-overpayment-recovery-staff-guide/benefit-
To be helpful we are providing some additional links, outside our obligations under the FOI
Act, that you may also find useful:
For questions 2, 4 and 5, whilst we hold some information relating to your request, this
information is exempt under Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act. This
exemption covers certain information which, if released, would likely prejudice the prevention
and detection of fraud and crime.
As required by the FOI Act, we have considered the public interest test in relation to this
exemption. There is a public interest in greater transparency and providing details on how
government departments work. However, there is a public interest in protecting and maintain
how government departments undertake certain action, that if revealed, would likely expose
the Department to signification risk.
DWP introduced a number of tactical solutions for the present COVID situation as it’s stands
today, and as such if shared externally would give knowledge of our security, fraud, evidence
verification, labour market and sensitivity adjustments. By supplying this information, we
would leave the Department open to significant fraud. Therefore, on balance, DWP is
satisfied that in this instance the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the
public interest in disclosure.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact us quoting the reference number
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Department for Work and Pensions
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or by writing to: DWP Central FoI Team, Caxton
House, 6-12 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. General y, 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.
Website: ICO Contact Information
or telephone 0303 123 1113.