DWP's Basic Assumptions (1)

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I wish to establish that some of DWP’s basic statements and assumptions are suitably firmly grounded.
In VTR3452 you have stated:

“We know that many people with disabilities or health conditions want to work, and are committed to identifying people for the correct support to get back to work and avoid ending up on long-term sickness benefits”, which means that the ‘system’ has in some way stopped disabled people who want to work from looking for a job. This is intended to make DWP sound no more than a “facilitator” helping people to achieve their own ambitions, rather than coercing people into work who are not capable of doing it.

Q1: What aspects of the old ‘system’ were doing this? The fact that there was no WCA did not prevent people job hunting – the only barriers were enough genuinely supportive employers and work that had been suitable adapted. Equality legislation does not guarantee compliance.

Q2: What evidence do you have to support the phrase “MANY people” (implying the vast majority) rather than “some people”. The report quoted does not make this clear.

The report referenced (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hwwb-is-work-... does in fact conclude that
“The likely benefits (of work) outweigh any potential risks”, but it equally points out that this statement is very much “In general, provided due care is taken to make jobs as safe and ‘good’. [It explains ‘good jobs’ as those “with appropriate accommodations and adjustments”], clearly recognising that “normal” (unadjusted) jobs will not be suitable. The authors further make the point through the reminder: “The provisos are that account must be taken of the social context, the nature and quality of work, and the fact that a minority of people may experience contrary effects. Jobs should be safe and should also be accommodating for sickness and disability.” I would like to see the effort DWP has put into creating these ‘special’ jobs – putting the horse correctly before the cart as it were.

Q3: What additional steps have you taken to ensure the jobs you are passing people fit to do are “safe” and “good”?
If ALL jobs are already both, there would have been no need to make this point – clearly the authors believe that some form of adaptation might be necessary.

Also, legislation in itself does not guarantee compliance and DWP would have responsibly established true levels of compliance prior to proceeding with a plan based heavily on this assumption. Note I am looking for independently established, conclusive evidence, NOT just a DWP opinion.

This report also contains a number of qualifications not mentioned in VTR3452 or generally by DWP:

1) There is a DWP disclaimer pointing out that the views expressed in the report are not necessarily shared by DWP, yet you are referencing its findings.

Q4: Please clarify, do you agree with it or not? If the answer is ‘in part’, where are your provisos documented?

2) It states: “Although the broad conclusions of this review are clear, several important issues need further clarification” and then lists 7 of them.

Q5: For each, what work has been done to progress them in parallel to its other findings and where can the results of this work be examined?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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

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DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find attached FOI response to your recent request.

<<FoI 4149 4121 Newman.pdf>>

Regards

Central FOI Team

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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 'DWP's Basic Assumptions (1)'.

There are several issues the response has not addressed:

Q1:
I have read the report you said answers this request at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/a-new-deal-fo..., but IT DOES NOT.
It too talks about traditional barriers to employment, but NOT what they are/were. To repeat, what aspects of the ‘old’ system stopped a disabled person who wanted to work from working? If there is no information to support this assertion, it cannot be true. As you have said, very many disabled people WANT to work – so what EXACTLY was stopping them – please don’t just say “the system” without explaining what you mean.

Q2/Q3:
The reference I provided makes the point that to successfully help disabled people back in to work, the work itself will often have to be adapted and that simply dumping them on the job market without this recognition will not work. The author refers to these as “good” jobs. Which of all of the various back-to-work initiatives have SPECIFIC responsibility for adapting jobs in line with the report’s conclusion? This is completely different from supporting the individual.
The WCA process can easily declare a person FFW against their own judgement. The report makes the point that “a minority of people may experience contrary effects”, i.e. their health will suffer as a result. I am trying to establish here what recognition DWP has made of this risk and what steps it has taken to mitigate it. Due to the potentially dire consequences of an error, if this recognition has been made it will certainly be recorded. If it is not, you only need say so.

Q4:
Just a correction – the disclaimer DOES NOT state that DWP accepts its findings. It says unequivocally that the views expressed ARE NOT necessarily the official view of DWP – rather a case of having it both ways to avoid accountability.

Q6:
Important to note that despite the potentially dire consequences of an error being highlighted in this report, DWP did not consider it necessary to undertake a formal risk assessment.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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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S. Martin left an annotation ()

Smoke and mirrors comes to mind with this response.

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please find attached FOI response to your recent Internal Review request.

Regards

Central FOI Team

<<VTR 783 - Newman.pdf>>

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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 'DWP's Basic Assumptions (1)'.

I am raising this as an IRR as I do not believe the other communication devices receive the same attention.
I would simply like to point out that one of the first requirements of FoI legislation is that the authority makes it clear if the information requested exists or not. The first response here does not do that. What it does is reference loosely connected reports that do not in fact contain the required information. This is fine and can be helpful as long as it is described accurately. There is no harm in admitting that the information does not exist, but something else might be of assistance rather than pretending they are one and the same.

The IR response does this indirectly by saying that there is no other information available, but the IRR would not have been necessary if the original request had been dealt with correctly.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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

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

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find attached response to your recent request for a review of an
Internal Review.

<<Response IR 201.pdf>>

Regards

DWP Central FOI Team

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