Actions Taken Regarding the Five-Week Wait for Universal Credit

Amanda Hart made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I am writing to make a formal request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. My enquiry pertains to the Department's actions concerning the minimum five-week waiting period for the first Universal Credit payment—a subject of considerable public interest.

To ensure compliance with the cost limitations set forth by the Act, I have narrowed my request to the following key questions:

1 What specific measures has the DWP undertaken to alleviate the detrimental impact of the five-week waiting period on Universal Credit claimants?

2 Has the DWP evaluated or acted upon recommendations from external bodies, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, to mitigate the hardships associated with the five-week waiting period? If so, could you summarise this from your recorded information?

Public Interest Statement: The disclosure of this information serves the public interest by shedding light on the Department's openness to external expertise in refining the Universal Credit system. This is especially pertinent given the extensive public discourse and media scrutiny surrounding the challenges posed by the five-week waiting period.

While we acknowledge that this question may intersect with exemptions under Section 35 of the FOI Act, we clarify that our intent is not to uncover early-stage policy formulation but to ascertain whether the Department is receptive to external input.

3 Is the government cognisant of the need to reassess or modify the existing five-week waiting period for Universal Credit? If affirmative, could you summarise this from your recorded information?

Public Interest Statement: The release of this information is crucial for public discourse, as it would indicate whether the government acknowledges the need for reform in the Universal Credit system, particularly concerning the five-week wait. This information is vital for the electorate to make an informed decision in future general elections.

We understand that this question might be subject to exemptions under Section 35, but our focus is on gauging the government's awareness of the issue, rather than exposing preliminary policy ideas. We are prepared to vigorously argue for the release of this information if it is deemed exempt, as the public has a right to know whether the government comprehends the challenges created by the five-week waiting period.

I anticipate a response within the statutory 20 working days as stipulated by the Act. Please acknowledge receipt of this request in writing.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your timely response.

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK Lies and Corruption

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
 
This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received by the DWP Freedom of Information mailbox and will be
processed accordingly.
 
Please note that this mailbox is for Freedom of Information (FOI) or
Internal Review (IR) requests only – If you have submitted a non FOI or IR
related email then we may not be able to action it.
 
 
Timescales for responding
 
Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests
 
If your email is a valid FOI request, as per Section 8 of the FOI Act
2000, you can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Internal Review (IR) Requests
 
You can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
We will respond to all valid FOI and IR requests within our statutory
timescales, if we are unable to do so then we will contact you to explain
why. Please note that we are not able to process your FOI or IR request in
any shorter timescales that you may indicate.
 
 
Receiving a response from us
 
Please note that email FOI and IR responses will be issued from
[email address]
 
We recommend that you add this address to your email contacts otherwise
the response may be treated as Spam or Junk by your email account
provider.  
 
 
Further Information
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with your FOI or IR
request please contact us.
 
More information on the DWP can be accessed on gov.uk here –
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

Amanda Hart left an annotation ()

Please also see this link: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gov.uk,

1 Attachment

Dear Amanda Hart,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 27th
October.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I am writing to formally request an internal review of the response I received concerning my Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which bears the reference number FOI2023/82638.

I acknowledge your response to my initial FOI request. However, I believe that certain aspects of the response remain unanswered, and I am seeking an internal review to ensure full compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Firstly, I appreciate your response to Question 1, where it was indicated that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does not hold any recorded information relevant to that particular inquiry. This response aligns with the requirements of the FOIA.

My concerns primarily pertain to the responses provided for Questions 2 and 3. While I am aware that the FOIA does not mandate the creation of new information, it unequivocally necessitates the confirmation of whether information is held and the provision of that information or a citation of exemption. Unfortunately, these essential requirements were not met in your initial response. Specifically:

Question 2: I inquired whether the DWP has evaluated or acted upon recommendations from external bodies, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, to mitigate the hardships associated with the five-week waiting period. The response failed to confirm the existence of such information or provide any details regarding this aspect. Furthermore, it did not cite a valid exemption under the FOIA.

Question 3: My query revolved around whether the government is cognisant of the need to reassess or modify the existing five-week waiting period for Universal Credit. While the response mentioned the absence of plans to alter the assessment period and payment structure, it omitted explicit confirmation of recorded information regarding the government's awareness of the need for potential reassessment or modification. Additionally, it did not cite a valid exemption under the FOIA.

Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, public authorities are explicitly required to specify whether they hold information pertinent to a request or to cite a valid exemption. While this requirement was duly met for Question 1, it regrettably remained unfulfilled for Questions 2 and 3.

Hence, I respectfully request that the Department for Work and Pensions conducts a thorough internal review to address these outstanding elements of my FOI request. This review should result in either the provision of the information sought or a clear and valid citation of exemption as mandated by the FOIA.

I emphasise that the information sought is of substantial public interest, pivotal for informed public discourse, and fundamental to the transparency surrounding the Universal Credit system.

I sincerely appreciate your attention to this matter and eagerly await a revised response that comprehensively addresses the unanswered aspects of my initial request. Kindly acknowledge the receipt of this formal request for an internal review.

A complete history of my FOI request and all related correspondence can be accessed via the following link: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

Amanda Hart
for Stop UK lies and Corruption.

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
 
This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received by the DWP Freedom of Information mailbox and will be
processed accordingly.
 
Please note that this mailbox is for Freedom of Information (FOI) or
Internal Review (IR) requests only – If you have submitted a non FOI or IR
related email then we may not be able to action it.
 
 
Timescales for responding
 
Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests
 
If your email is a valid FOI request, as per Section 8 of the FOI Act
2000, you can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Internal Review (IR) Requests
 
You can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
We will respond to all valid FOI and IR requests within our statutory
timescales, if we are unable to do so then we will contact you to explain
why. Please note that we are not able to process your FOI or IR request in
any shorter timescales that you may indicate.
 
 
Receiving a response from us
 
Please note that email FOI and IR responses will be issued from
[email address]
 
We recommend that you add this address to your email contacts otherwise
the response may be treated as Spam or Junk by your email account
provider.  
 
 
Further Information
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with your FOI or IR
request please contact us.
 
More information on the DWP can be accessed on gov.uk here –
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gov.uk,

1 Attachment

Dear Amanda Hart,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 13th
November.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Amanda Hart left an annotation ()

Upon looking again at their original response it could be interpreted that their assertion of no information being held could in fact refer to all parts of our request rather than just some of it. The information they go on to provide would presumably only be what they consider to be outside of their duty under the FoIA.

The lack of explicit clarity in their response — specifically not individually addressing each question to confirm whether they hold relevant information or not — leads to confusion or ambiguity.

We maintain their response could and should have been clearer.