Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

On 25 March 2021 new regulations relating to work capability assessments (“WCA”) being carried out by telephone or video came into force.

I assume that the DWP will have carried out an evaluation of WCAs being completed by telephone or video prior to laying the new regulations (I know the DWP has not produced an impact assessment).

It is reasonable to assume that the evaluation resulted in a report being produced by the DWP and that submissions were made by Maximus UK Services Limited (“Maximus”) (trading as Centre for Health and Disability Assessments).

RFI1: Please disclose the evaluation report produced by the DWP into the carrying out of WCA via telephone or video.

RFI1a: If earlier drafts of the evaluation report are readily available and do not breach S.12 please disclose those as well.

RFI2: Please disclose the submission provided by Maximus to the DWP. It is assumed that these submissions took the form of a small number of written reports. If these reports can be provided within S.12 cost limits, please do so. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not interested in individual emails or other documents that refer to the evaluation.

Any information that is exempt under section 40 FOIA is considered to be outside the scope of this request for information.

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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

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DWP Central FOI Team,

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Dear John Slater,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 8th
April.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

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 'ESA - WCA by Telephone or Video - Evaluation Report'.

Thank you for your section 17 response of 06 April 2021.

I do not believe that the Department can satisfy the relevant tests to rely on sections 22 and 22A respectively to refuse disclosure.

Section 22
I do not believe that the Department has a settled intend to publish the information I have requested at the time of my request. I suggest that a good indicator of this is that the Department was unlikely to be planning to release earlier drafts of the evaluation report. Another issue relates to the Department’s claims that the requested information relates to an ongoing programme of research. Therefore, how can the Department claim it knows what it is going to publish if the research is ongoing?

The Department has not given a timescale of when it intends to publish and this undermines its claim regarding reasonableness and the public interest.

Section 22A
This is a prejudice based exemption. This means that the Department must satisfy the prejudice test as defined in Hogan and Oxford City Council v ICO (EA/2005/0026 and 0030). The Department has offered no evidence whatsoever to support its claim of prejudice and therefore I say it cannot rely on section 22A to refuse disclosure.

RFI2
The Department’s response suggests that Maximus UK Service Limited/Centre for Health and Disability Assessments have provided submissions to the Department about the evaluation of telephone and video assessments, but the Department doesn’t consider them relevant. I suspect that the Department has interpreted the wording of my RFI2 in order to avoid disclosing information (not for the first time).

Therefore, I have reworded RFI2 as follows:

a. Did Maximus UK Service Limited/Centre for Health and Disability Assessments provide submissions to the Department on the evaluation of telephone and video assessments?

b. Why did the Department not consider these submissions as being relevant to my original RFI2?

c. What form did these submissions take (e.g. email, oral at meetings (including video/audio conferences) where it was documented by the Department, etc).

d. If it is possible within section 12 cost limit, please disclose the submissions.

Please note that any information that is exempt under section 40 FOIA is still to be considered as outside the scope of this request for information.

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,

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.
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally expect
a response within 20 working days.
 
However please be advised that due to the current situation with COVID-19
we cannot guarantee a response within this timescale.
 
Every effort is being made to respond to FOIs as we would usually but the
current situation means that available Departmental resources will be
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.
 
Email FOI responses will be issued from [1][email address]
We recommend that you add this address to your email contacts otherwise
the response may be treated as Spam or Junk mail.  
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
[2]http://www.gov.uk/dwp
 
 

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DWP Central FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear John Slater,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 7th
May.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

DWP Central FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear John Slater,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 7th
May.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team