Complaints about DWP handled by PHSO in 2018/19

J Roberts made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The PHSO has released information on the number of complaints it dealt with concerning your organisation in “Complaints about UK government departments and other public organisations” for the year 2018/19:

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/publication...

The figures reveal that:

Enquiries received 1,553

Complaints assessed 191

Complaints resolved through intervention 2

Complaints accepted for investigation 30

Investigations fully upheld 0

Investigations partly upheld 4

Investigation NOT upheld 21

Investigations discontinued 5

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

1. Can you please confirm that the PHSO carried out thirty investigations into complaints about your organisation for the year 2018/19 and that none of its investigations was fully upheld.

2. Please provide the number of complaints regarding your organisation the PHSO contacted you about during 2018/19.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

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

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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Central FOI Team, Department for Work and Pensions

Our ref: FOI2020/17978

Contact email: [1][email address]

Dear J Roberts,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 9th
April. Your request is being considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

You can normally expect a response to your FoI request within 20 working
days. However due to the current situation with COVID-19 it may not be
possible for us to reply to you within this timeframe.

The DWP will make every effort to respond to FOIs as we would usually but
the current situation may mean that available Departmental resources are
needed on other high priority areas.

We kindly ask for your understanding during this unprecedented situation
and we will aim to deal with your FOI request as soon as is practically
possible.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact the department
using the email address and reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Department for Work and Pensions

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

The figures referred to in this request came from a table published by the PHSO which involved a data breach (5,300 complainants' names).

The ICO has responded to a request about the breach:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Operations FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear J Roberts,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 9
April.

Your response is attached

Yours sincerely,

DWP Operations FOI Team

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Sobering statistics - of 1,553 enquiries made to the PHSO about the DWP in 2018/19 not one resulted in a fully upheld complaint.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The document the figures came from no longer appears to be available on the PHSO website. A data breach occurred which is being investigated by the ICO:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Just over 5% of the 5,300 complainants affected are to be notified. Here is the statement on the PHSO website:

"We regret to report that on 5 March, a list of complainants’ names and some information about their complaints were published in error on our website. The names of the caseworkers who worked on these complaints were also published.

The data did not include any contact details such as telephone numbers, emails or addresses, nor personal information such as age or date of birth.

The information was removed on 28 April 2020. If you have downloaded or otherwise obtained a copy of the spreadsheet, please delete it in whatever form you hold it.  

How many people were affected?

The names of just over 5,300 complainants and 197 members of PHSO staff were published. For the vast majority, we are satisfied that no issues arise which require action beyond publishing this notice. However, we are taking a cautious approach by notifying 311 people individually where inferences could be drawn from the data.

Where was the data?

The information was in a spreadsheet published alongside the Ombudsman’s Annual Casework Report 2019. The spreadsheet showed the number of complaints received about each organisation. The information was not visible to readers unless they clicked to reveal hidden tables. 

What did the data include?

The information published was: 

the names of the complainants
the date a complainant contacted us 
how they contacted us (by telephone or using the web form) 
the organisation(s) complained about
the name of the caseworker and whether the case was upheld, partly upheld or not upheld. 

What are the risks?

Having investigated the information that was published, we believe the risk of someone using this information maliciously is very low.
What action has PHSO taken?

As soon as we became aware of the situation, we removed the information from the website and reported the data breach to the Information Commissioner. We are investigating what went wrong and have reviewed and changed our processes to make sure this does not happen again.

We are very sorry that this happened and any for any worry it may cause our service users and colleagues.

I downloaded and saved a copy of the spreadsheet while it was available on the website. What should I do?

If you have downloaded or otherwise obtained a copy of the spreadsheet, please delete it in whatever form you hold it.  

If you want to contact us

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact our Data Protection Officer at privacy@ombudsman.org.uk. If you are unhappy with our response, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office."

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Recent ICO survey: 'Information Rights Strategic Plan:Trust and Confidence':

https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/d...

'Q1. How much trust and confidence do you have in companies and organisations storing and using your personal information?

Net low trust and confidence

2019 - 38%

2020 - 28%'

A significant fall.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

DWP complaints received by the PHSO:

'Complaints about UK Government Departments and other Public Organisations 2020-21'

DWP – 1065 complaints received (total)

Detailed Investigations fully upheld – 0

Detailed Investigations partly upheld - 5

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...

'Complaints about UK Government Departments and other Public Organisations 2019-20'

DWP – 1279 complaints received (total)

Detailed Investigations fully upheld - 4
Detailed Investigations partly upheld - 3

https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/defau...