Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,

What investigations, meetings and consultancies were undertaken to ensure that your current police surrounding Housing Benefit is compliant with the Equalities Act 2010? What was the outcome of these meetings and consultancies? Please provide any relevant minutes, memoranda or recommendations.

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan May-Bowles

Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,
Please excuse the typo in my previous missive; 'police' should of course read 'policy'. Please also provide the names and positions of those involved in the above decision making exercises, as well as the dates upon which they took place.

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan May-Bowles

Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7829235

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Dear Sir/Madam
 
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Team. 

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Westminster City Council
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[email address]
 
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Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7829235

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Dear Sir/Madam,
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 23 July
2018.
 
Request summary
Dear Westminster City Council,
What investigations, meetings and consultancies were undertaken to ensure
that your current police surrounding Housing Benefit is compliant with the
Equalities Act 2010? What was the outcome of these meetings and
consultancies? Please provide any relevant minutes, memoranda or
recommendations.
Yours faithfully,
Jonathan May-Bowles 
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We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and we aim to send a response by 20 August 2018.
 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 may restrict the release of some or
all of the information you have requested. We will carry out an assessment
and if any exemptions apply to some or all of the information then we
might not provide that information to you. We will inform you if this is
the case and advise you of your rights to request an internal review and
to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
 
We will also advise you if we cannot provide you with the information
requested for any other reason together with the reason(s) why and details
of how you may appeal (if appropriate).
 
Yours faithfully,
 
 
Westminster City Council
Email: [1][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [2]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
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Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7829235

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Dear  Mr May-Bowles,
 
Re. Freedom of Information Request  7829235
 
Thank you for your recent request to the Council. You asked to be provided
with the following information:
 

Scheme
Freedom of Information Act

Details
Dear Westminster City Council,
What investigations, meetings and consultancies were undertaken to
ensure that your current police surrounding Housing Benefit is
compliant with the Equalities Act 2010? What was the outcome of
these meetings and consultancies? Please provide any relevant
minutes, memoranda or recommendations.
Yours faithfully,

 
Response ' Clarification required
 
 
I am writing to ask you to clarify your request. This is because we need
further details from you in order to identify and locate the information.
Housing Benefit is governed by national statute ' please can you clarify
which Council policy you are referring to?
 
Advice & Assistance
 
Your request will be placed on hold until you provide the clarifications
as set out in the section above, whereupon your request will be allocated
to the relevant department(s) for consideration. You will receive a
response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days (from date of
receipt of the clarification) as defined by Act.
 
For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions, which may
prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then it cannot be
released. You will be informed if any exemptions apply.
 
There may be a fee payable for this information. This will be considered
and you will be informed of the fee payable if this is the case. In this
event the fee must be paid before the information is processed and
released.
 
Advice on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 AND/OR Environmental
Information Regulations 2004 is available from the Information
Commissioner and I provide his contact details here for your reference:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510
[1]www.ico.gov.uk
  
Yours faithfully
 
 
Westminster City Council
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [2][email address]
Web: [3]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
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2. mailto:[email address]
3. file:///tmp/www.westminster.gov.uk

Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,

Westminster council has a series of internal processes which relate to the administration of Housing Benefit. One such example might be the period of time given to applicants to respond to messages, or equally the amount of time the council chooses to take before opening correspondence. There are doubtless a number of other administrative processes, not governed by national statute, which dictate the day to to day workings of your housing benefit department, which deals with the public.

At some point or points these internal policies will have been formulated. I am writing to enquire how Westminster council concluded that the administrative regime chosen by Westminster council in the provision of housing benefit conforms to the Equalities Act 2010. If minutes or guidance pertinent to this decision were produced I hereby request copies of said documentation, assuming doing so would not create prohibitive costs for this specific FOI request.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan May-Bowles

Westminster City Council

2 Attachments

Information request
Our reference: 7829235

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Dear Sir/Madam
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 28 July 2018.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.

If you are dissatisfied with your response please send your Internal
Review request to the email address below

[1][Westminster City Council request email]

 
Yours faithfully
 
 
Westminster City Council
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [2][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [3]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not reply to this email.

References

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2. mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
3. file:///tmp/www.westminster.gov.uk

Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Westminster City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Equalities Act'.
The council are claiming that all housing benefit decisions are covered by national legslation and that they have no discretion in how they are carried out. For example, at present the council might, according to legislation, require at a minimum pieces of evidence A, B, C, D and E in order to make a decision. At present the council gathers the evidence in the following fashion (we will call this 'process A':

1.) Request evidence A
2.) Wait three weeks
3.) If evidence A is insufficient, reject the claim, else:
4.) Return to step 1, replacing A with B, then B with C and so on

Such a process will naturally take around five months, and is nowhere stipulated in British law when the following process, process B, is equally effective and indeed demonstrably more efficient:

1.) Ask for all the evidence required to make a decision - A, B, C, D and E
2.) Do not wait for an arbitrary amount of time before reviewing the evidence but instead do so as soon as possible. This period is likely to be closer to one week than three,
3.) Make a decision - only ask for more evidence when necessary

I design algorithms for a living and process B is demonstrably faster, cheaper and more efficient for all parties. Yet process A has been chosen. There are many such procedural decisions which lie outside of statute, yet the council refuses to justify them in response to this FOI request. This is a manifest breach of the act.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan May-Bowles

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