Clarification on whether jobcentre staff are permitted / authorised / encouraged to ignore published DWP guidelines and apply their own interpretation to unemployed "clients"

R Davis made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

A large number of FOI requests have been made via the "What Do They Know" (WDTK) website, and a significant amount of published DWP policy has been provided in response to these queries. I have several questions arising from this published DWP policy:

1 - Does any member of DWP and / or Jobcentre staff have the authority to ignore any of the published DWP policies as provided by the FOI response team, to interpret these guidelines differently and apply them as they see fit locally?

A broad example of this to consider, is if the published DWP policy on this (WDTK) website, indicates that a specific policy should be applied after 12 months of a job-seekers claim, does any member of staff have the authority, right or is in any way encouraged by the DWP to use that same policy after just 5 months of claim?

Yours faithfully,

R Davis

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Please find attached our response to your Freedom of Information request.
 
 

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Thank you for your reply dated 6th November 2014, which is helpful insofar that it does provide new information, which, as far as I am aware, has hitherto not been seen before.

However, your response raises new questions:

1 - Within the rather brief "Operational Framework" which is rather vague and short, it refers to an "F&F Catalogue" - please provide a link to this catalogue so that all Yes's and Maybe's can be viewed.

2 - This F&F catalogue doesn't appear to answer my actual question though in any event, as I am surmising that this "F&F catalogue is a general "ideas sharing resource" (or similar) where DWP staff can suggest changes/improvements to how things are done on either a local or national scale.

My specific question already posed, specifically asked whether local DWP staff operating in your jobcentre network, have the immediate scope to ignore published DWP policy (a significant amount of this DWP policy has been published by responding to this and many other FOI information requests which is all I reference in principle in my original enquiry) and operate independently of this published DWP policy?

If the answer to this specific question is "Yes" - please advise the process a single member of DWP staff, working in a local jobcentre somewhere in the country, would need to go through, or the considerations they would need to make, or the authority that they would need to obtain and from whom in order to ignore published policy and do something that is contrary to it? Please also provide all guidance that is issued either to your frontline staff, or any of their higher management structure that enables them to consider whether they can independently operate contrary to your published policy.

If the answer to this specific question is "No, they cannot ignore published DWP policy", please just say so in your response.

Yours sincerely,

R Davis

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Under the FOI legislation, I am informed by the "What Do They Know" website, that you are statutorily required to have responded by the 20th November 2014.

Yours sincerely,

R Davis

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Good evening R Davis,
 
Please find attached an update to your recent Freedom of Information
request logged as reference number 4905:
 
 
Thank you
 
DWP Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

I am sorry, but that is entirely unacceptable.

You should have replied already by the 20th November 2014. You failed to do so.

You now respond, on the 5th December 2014 , without even bothering to apologise that you are in contravention of the law by more than a fortnight and state, without asking for my agreement, that you are failing to respond for another month?

Please escalate this to your line manager. Please advise who wrote the letter dated 5th December 2014 and their grade, and confirm who this has been escalated to and their grade.

Yours sincerely,

R Davis

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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R Davis
 
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
 
 
 
 
DWP Freedom of Information Request Team
 
 
 

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear R Davis,
 
Please find attached the reply to your recent Freedom of Information
internal review request reference number 613:
 
 
Thank you
 
DWP Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Once again, this is an inadequate reply that has ignored many of the questions posed. I now believe that you are being deliberately obtuse:

1 - This F&F catalogue doesn't appear to answer my actual question though in any event, as I am surmising that this "F&F catalogue is a general "ideas sharing resource" (or similar) where DWP staff can suggest changes/improvements to how things are done on either a local or national scale.

My specific question already posed, specifically asked whether local DWP staff operating in your Jobcentre network, have the immediate local scope to ignore published DWP policy (a significant amount of this DWP policy has been published by responding to this and many other FOI information requests which is all I reference in principle in my original enquiry) and operate singularly and independently of this published DWP policy?

If the answer to this specific question is "Yes" - please advise the process a single member of DWP staff, working in a local Jobcentre somewhere in the country, would need to go through, or the considerations they would need to make, or the authority that they would need to obtain and from whom in order to ignore published DWP policy and do something that is contrary to it on an individual basis? Please also provide all guidance that is issued either to your frontline staff, or any of their higher management structure that enables them to consider whether they can independently operate contrary to your published policy.

If the answer to this specific question is "No, they cannot ignore published DWP policy", please just say so in your response.

Since you appear to be deliberately avoiding the question posed, let me provide you with some additional generic scenarios for some specific responses:

a) A Jobcentre Workcoach decides that they are unhappy with the effort that they perceive a Claimant is putting in to look for work - they decide to "keep them busy" with a 4 week MWA placement. Can a Jobcentre Workcoach and/or Jobcentre office ignore published DWP policy and carry on this line of activity?

b) A Jobcentre Workcoach misleads a Claimant by stating that a voluntary training course is actually mandatory at the time of offering it to the Claimant, pressurising them into accepting it when the Claimant doesn't actually have to. Can a Jobcentre Workcoach and/or Jobcentre office ignore published DWP policy and present this mis-representation as "fact"?

2 - Why haven't you answered the specific questions posed from the 5th December 2014?

Yours sincerely,

R Davis

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear R Davis
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Your most recent reply is somewhat incompetent, but as what appears to be a broad "aside", it contains the following simple sentence as part of your reply:

"To help clarify the information we sent you previously there
is no immediate scope for Jobcentre staff to ignore DWP policy"

This confirmation is all I had been asking for all along - my request for this specific confirmation had been very clear indeed. Quite why you needed to prolong this simple request for so long is simply beyond me, however, I am grateful for this confirmation to finally be published by the DWP eventually.

Yours sincerely,

R Davis

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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S Newport left an annotation ()

Like trying to get blood out of a stone. Pleased to see you got an answer in the end. Many don't.

Well done for pressing until you got what you asked for.

R Davis left an annotation ()

Dealing with the DWP, is like trying to herd snakes.

They'd far rather cover each other's backsides than deal with the general public openly and honestly. I am probably more right-leaning than anything else, but the current Government is appallingly inept in helping people in need. Appalling inept - especially if you're disabled.