Deferring WCA for 4 weeks

John Slater made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The Atos Healthcare blog includes the following statements:
“The Department for Work and Pensions does not routinely use recordings of assessments as part of the decision making process for benefit claims.”

Question 1: Please tell me under what circumstances the DWP use recordings as part of its decision making process for benefit claims? Please don’t waste my time by talking about tribunal appeals as this is clearly outwith the normal DWP decision making process.

“For example, the DWP states that we may only defer an appointment for up to four weeks from the date of requesting an audio recording.” The DWP has also referred to this 4 week limit for deferring WCA on numerous occasions.

Question 2: Please direct me to the relevant section of the ESA Regulations 2008 that provides for it only being possible to delay a WCA for 4 weeks? (Please don’t waste my time by providing anything other than a direct reference to the ESA Regulations).

Question 3: If the 4 week limit is defined in alternative statute please direct me to the relevant regulations (Please don’t waste my time by providing anything other than a direct reference to the relevant regulations).
Question 4: If the 4 week period is not defined by statute/regulation then how did the DWP decide on this period?

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

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B. Adams left an annotation ()

No statute in place, no legal requirement for a 4 weeks limit, The time limit is in place to protect the DWP and Atos against what? If the unavailability of equipment is the sole reason then there can be no objections made by the HCP to “self recording” . If the case is returned to the DM after four weeks to make a decision, what is this decision? Is it a decision on a claim or to decide what to do next. It's unlikely to be a claims decision, but if so, is this then to be made without an assessment. Deliberate ambiguities designed to leave you in a state of uncertainty..

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Deferring WCA for 4 weeks'.

DWP Response to Q1
The answer provided is totally unclear as to which stage of the ESA the process the DWP is referring to.I would be grateful if you clarify the information provided. For example is the time period you are referring to after the DM as issued their decision as to the eligibility of the claimant for ESA? I can think of no other point at which a claimant would need to submit a transcript of their WCA.

Therefore, is the DWP stating that it insists on having a copy of the recording of a WCA in the event that the claimant wishes to appeal a decision and submits a transcript as evidence to that appeal?

DWP response to Q2 and Q3
Thank you for confirming that the 4 week limit imposed by the DWP is simply departmental policy and has no statutory basis.

DWP Response to Q4
I fear the author may have misunderstood my question. I asked how the DWP decided upon the 4 week period. I did not ask about a 4 week delay in relation to recording WCA. As the DWP has stated it has a departmental policy whereby it is happy to defer a WCA for up to 4 weeks for any reason. I assume that this 4 week period existed before the issue of audio recording of WCA arose and the DWP must have had its reason for selecting 4 weeks and this is the information I have requested.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/de...

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

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Rick Sykes left an annotation ()

Aha! I think the acknowledgment that the 'decision maker's' obligation to consider ALL available evidence extends to consdidering an audo-recording (if available, and, of course, relevant to a claimant's case), represents a potentially very important chink in the dam wall here.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Deferring WCA for 4 weeks'.

DWP Answer to Question 1
There is one element of the DWP answer that remains ambiguous. Is the “reconsideration process” part of the “entitlement decision process” or the “appeals process”?

Thank you for confirming that a Decision Maker could use an audio recording of a claimant’s WCA when making their decision on entitlement to ESA. Unfortunately this would mean that the DM obtained the information illegally as the WCA Audio Consent Form states:

“The recording is not required by the DWP and WILL NOT be used by the Department in the benefit decision making process. However DWP may request a copy of the CD at any time.”

DWP Answer to Q4
Thank you for confirming that the 4 week deferment period is simply DWP policy and that it does not hold any information about its derivation.

I was surprised by the comment concerning operational versus ministerial decisions. I’m sure the department is aware of the Carltona Doctrine that means decisions take by officials are synonymous with those taken directly by the Minister in charge.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/de...

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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Rick Sykes left an annotation ()

Excellent 'pounce' on the inaccurate consent form text, JS. Every time the DWP tries to patch up its 'leaky dam' it seems to sprout two fresh leaks elsewhere.

John Slater left an annotation ()

I believe the audio consent form is unlawful anyway and have a complaint with the ICO under Data Protection. Companies House are also investigating the fact that the form didn't include the registered company details for Atos IT Services UK Limited as this is a breach of law.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

show quoted sections

William Hammonds left an annotation ()

Use whatever you like to make a record of your audible presentation. Since when did atos acquire the authority to decide how you make a record.
Atos HCP can misrepresent a client in all wca reports.
The only way to put a stop to this is to have an audio recording made of the wca.
Atos will offer to supply the audio equipment. When you arrive at your wca they will ask you to sign a waiver which states that you will not use the recording for any other purpose than to assist your claim. After all, the recording will belong to them and they can decide what a copy can be used for.
If you have a wca booked you can take your own recording equipment as long as you give formal notice that you intend to record.It could go like this "I hereby give formal notice of intent to make audio recording of my audible presentation during wca on (date) at (address). This recording will include audio recording of any other person attending wca and will be used for any porpose including but not limited to private prosecutions of hcp"
You do not need permission to give notice. Just push it in front of the hcp, and go ahead and record with whatever you feel would be admissible in court.
This will make the recording yours, and you can use it to prosecute the HCP privately. The Hcp can not hide behind the corporation when accused of misrepresentation which has caused loss or harm.
Small claims courts were designed to simplify claims, and I can assure you that you will be surprised at how easy it can be to prosecute. One step above small claims courts are fast track courts. These courts are also a breeze. Try visiting any of these courts and ask an official how to make a claim, they will gladly help you as it is in their interest to have the business.