Equality Duties-recording

B. Adams made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
In your guidance http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/91...

It says ...”Staff should also be aware that (claimants) interviews can be recorded where it is a “reasonable adjustment” requirement under the Equality Act 2010.etc”....

This guidance is mainly for the Jobcentre, however considering the difficulties claimants have in an assessment, with regards to their disabilities, their mental factors and medications all having a profound effect on their memory, concentration and communication, this guidance must be even more relevant.

The Equality Act 2010 Code of Practice states ..as well as having an obligation not to indirectly discriminate against disabled people, service providers etc. also have an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

With regard to your guidance and procedures and your public sector equality duty please could you provide the following information..

As the DWP are aware of, or could reasonably be expected to know (ESA 50 etc.) of the significant difficulties a person with such problems would encounter, then...

a) With regard to the anticipatory duty, how is it decided (or not) that a claimant with poor memory, communication problems etc. who has notified you of their problems is to be given reasonable adjustments by way of audio recording? .

b) As it would be unreasonable for the claimant to supply their own equipment to satisfy the DWP's own equality duties, and considering the conditions being imposed (dual recording etc.) then how does the DWP comply with the requirements of their Equality duties. e.g. is recording equipment provided?

c) If your audio recording equipment is not available, as this would be a requirement of the Equality Act, is the qualifying claimant penalised in any way if he declines the assessment until one is available?

d) If a claimant is not offered an audio recording of their assessment, despite the DWP being notified of the conditions and the problems then .....

(1) Is it then necessary for the claimant to request that the assessment is recorded.
(2) Can the assessment be cancelled/delayed until remedied, thus allowing the DWP time to comply with the Act ?

Yours faithfully,

B. Adams

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

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Mr Adams

Please see attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Many Thanks

Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | Contracted Customer Services Directorate | DWP Operations | Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool FY5 3TA | www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the environment before printing

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Dear DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence,

Could you clarify the following points..

In response to Q1 you state.. “WCAs are recorded solely for the benefit,and at the request of claimants” .. Your Jobcentre guidance indicates that a claimant with poor memory, communication problems etc. who has notified you of their problems would benefit from such a recording.. however you have stated that you do not carry out such reasonable adjustments for WCA's or for claimants in greater need. This reply has been noted and accepted.

Q2 asked “how does the DWP comply with the requirements of their Equality duties” in this regard this would be a similar answer to Q1, the DWP do not.. this reply is accepted..

Q3 asks “is the qualifying claimant penalised in any way if he declines the assessment until one (recording equipment) is available”? This has not been answered

Q4(a) asks if a request would need to be made for reasonable adjustments to be made, your reply was yes but that it may not be accommodated.

Q4(b) asks can the assessment be cancelled or delayed thus giving the DWP the opportunity to comply with the Act ? Your reply was ..“after this time (4 weeks) the case will be withdrawn from the system by Atos Healthcare and returned to DWP to make a decision. Therefore some claimants may be asked to attend an unrecorded face to face assessment”. ..Here you indicate that the claimants difficulties are to be ignored completely by asking them to attend an unrecorded assessment.

Please could you answer Q3 and also with reference to Q4 could you clarify when the case is returned to the DWP to make a decision, what type of decision does this relate to.. e.g. is this a decision to delay the assessment, or a decision on the award etc..

Yours sincerely,

B. Adams

Pam Williams left an annotation ()

My goodness, their responses are becoming ever more alarming!

Then there is the related issue of accessibility and disabled facilities at Atos premises. Disabled claimants are (purposely) being required to travel long distances, park (if applicable) at sometimes great distances from the centres, climb or descent stairs (inc. wheelchair users!), use keypad/intercom entry systems (sight/hearing impaired/learning disabilities!) and sit in basic, cheap and non-adjustable seating, sometimes for long periods.

Of course many people have not yet worked out that the reason they send you torturous, convoluted route directions to places miles from your home, and then make you endure all of the above further obstacles is because it's all part of the test and for each obstacle that you overcome, this will result in more ticks in the 'fit for work' boxes of their IT programme. They are all tied to the descriptors, just as their seemingly friendly and innocuous questions about whether you have a pet, or watch soaps, or visit friends, or have a bank account are used to determine that you have 'no problem' with various other descriptors.

It's fairly obvious that DWP/Atos do not view claimants as having the protected characteristic of disability that the Equality Act relates to and hence they see no duty arising. To acknowledge that duty would seriously subvert the aims and purpose of the 'disability denial' programme.

B. Adams left an annotation ()

Well described Pam..the sad thing is that they are made aware of the problems in the ESA 50 and the supposed scrutiny should pick this up. If they can reasonably be expected to know of a disability then that is sufficient to bring into effect their obligations. There is no requirement for the claimant to remind them especially in these circumstances. By ignoring a claimants problems and imposing on them other requirements as you described, they have in effect shown that they have pre judged the decision.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please see attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Many Thanks

Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | Contracted Customer Services Directorate | DWP Operations | Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool FY5 3TA | www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the environment before printing

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