DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Our Ref: VTR 2839
8 November 2011
Dear Mr Houston,
Thank you for your letter dated 26 September in which you comment on the approach which
the Department for Work and Pensions and its providers should take in relation to data
You will know that the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) is not a complaints mechanism and
does not require us to undertake new work to create information or deal with a complaint. If an
individual has a complaint about the way their Work Programme provider is supporting them,
they should contact their provider to find out about their complaints procedure. If, having gone
through the Provider's full complaints procedure, the complaint remains unresolved, the
claimant can take their case to the Independent Case Examiner (www.ind-case-exam.org.uk
Below, I have set out some of the background to our legal powers, for your information.
Where a Jobseekerâ€™s Allowance claimant has been referred to the Work Programme, they
must undertake the activity required of them by their Work Programme provider as a condition
of continuing to receive benefits.
The powers we use to impose such requirements are those in the Jobseeker's Allowance
(Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme) Regulations 2011. When a Jobseekerâ€™s
Allowance claimant is referred to the Work Programme, they are also selected for participation
in the Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme. The claimant must undertake the activities
that we require by way of participation in the Scheme. A failure to do so could affect their
Where an Employment and Support Allowance claimant in the work-related activity group has
been referred to the Work Programme they may be required to undertake certain activities
which will make it more likely that the person will obtain or remain in work, or be able to do so.
The powers we use to impose such requirements are those in the Employment and Support
Allowance (Work-Related Activity) Regulations 2011.
Work Programme providers are providing services to the DWP and require access to personal
information held by the Department in order to undertake those services.
Section 3 of the Social Security Act 1998 allows DWP to reuse personal information relating to
social security and employment and training for another social security function. This includes
reuse by persons providing services to DWP, such as Work Programme providers, where
acting as the DWP's data processor.
In addition, in order to carry out their functions under the Employment, Skills and Enterprise
Scheme, the Work Programme provider may need additional personal information from the
claimant. If the claimant does not wish to provide this information it may be the case that, with
the provider, they can investigate ways in which they can still participate in the Scheme,
without the additional information being provided.
However, there may come a point when the Work Programme provider becomes concerned
that the claimantâ€™s withholding of information potentially amounts to non-participation in the
Scheme. If this is the case, they will refer the matter to a decision maker who will consider all
the facts of the case, including any good cause issues the claimant wishes to raise, and
determine whether the claimant has failed to participate. If the decision maker considers that
the claimant has failed to participate, their benefit will be sanctioned.
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-
or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, 5th Floor The Adelphi, 1-11, John Adam Street,
London WC2N 6HT. 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
Commissionerâ€™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
Commissionerâ€™s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk