Health and Work Capability Assessments under COVID-19

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department for Work and Pensions should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In your PIP assessment guide it is noted in section 1.6.1 that "In the majority of cases, a face-to-face consultation will be necessary to accurately assess the claimant’s functional ability. This gives the claimant the opportunity to explain to the HP how their impairment or health condition affects them."

Similarly, assessors carrying out Work-Capability Assessments often require a face-to-face assessment for claimants of ESA and Universal Credit.

With the recent decision to assess claims only on the paper or over the phone due to the COVID-19 virus, please could you :

- in the case of UC, ESA, and PIP, tell us any changes you have made to your policies and guidance to ensure that contracted healthcare professionals are able to accurately assess the functional ability of claimants without a face to face assessment.

- in the case of UC and ESA, tells us any changes you have made to internal policy and guidance to ensure that risk (as outlined in the ESA Regulations 2008 Regulations 29 and 35) can be appropriately and responsibly assessed without a face to face assessment.

Yours faithfully,

Finn Keaney

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

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[2]http://www.gov.uk/dwp
 
 

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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Policy Group Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Our ref: FOI2020/14504

Contact email: [1][email address]

Dear Finn Keaney,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 24th
March. Your request is being considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

You can normally expect a response to your FoI request within 20 working
days. However due to the current situation with COVID-19 it may not be
possible for us to reply to you within this timeframe.

The DWP will make every effort to respond to FOIs as we would usually but
the current situation may mean that available Departmental resources are
needed on other high priority areas.

We kindly ask for your understanding during this unpreceden ted situation
and we will aim to deal with your FOI request as soon as is practically
possible.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact the department
using the email address and reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I am writing to you in regards to my FOI request Health and Work Capability Assessments under COVID-19. All correspondences relating to this request can be found at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

This FOI response is now delayed beyond the timeframe in which I could normally have expected a response. I understand that under the current circumstances there is some room for delays, as such please advise whether or not you need to request an extension for this request, and if so for how long. If not please advise whether or not my FOI request is being worked on.

Yours sincerely,

Finn Keaney

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

  • Attachment

    Your request for information Ref FOI2020 14504.html

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Our ref: FOI2020/14504

Contact email: [1][email address]

Dear Finn Keaney,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 24th
March. Your request is being considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding however, we wrote
to you on 31 March informing you that although you can normally expect a
response to your FOI request within 20 working days, due to the current
situation with COVID-19 it may not be possible for us to reply to you
within this timeframe.

Unfortunately this has been the case in this instance.

The DWP will make every effort to respond to FOIs as we would usually but
t he current situation is that available Departmental resources are needed
on other high priority areas.

We kindly asked for your understanding during this unprecedented situation
while we continue to aim to deal with your FOI request as soon as is
practically possible.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Department for Work and Pensions

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DWP Central FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear Finn Keaney,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 24th
March.

Please accept our sincerest apologies for the delay in responding to your
Freedom of Information request.

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 'Health and Work Capability Assessments under COVID-19'.

My request has been marked as having been dealt with yet but the questions I asked have not actually been answered. Apologies if this misunderstanding was due to my not having been clear enough in my original request.

My question was, prior to COVID-19 assessment providers were operating under DWP that guidance that “[i]n the majority of cases, a face-to-face consultation will be necessary to accurately assess the claimant’s functional ability,” and that only in exceptional cases would it generally be possible for an assessment to be carried out over the phone or on the papers alone. In the time since social distancing measures have been introduced however, the proportions seem to have more or less flipped and the majority of cases are being decided over phone or on the paper.

This means two things:
1 – that you are now making a different decision / that there are different criteria for deciding which cases can be decided without a face-to-face
2- that paper assessments are being done in cases where they would not have done previously (and which therefore assessors and decision makers will not have previous experience of having assessed in this way)

I understand that the DWP gives detailed guidance and training to their staff, and similarly ensures through guidance and training a uniform level of service across contractors such as assessment providers. Given the large change to the way claims are being processed additional guidance must have been given.

I would like to see all such guidance. This could include any internal DWP comms, any internal DWP guidance or guidance provided to contractors, any new training that has taken place, or any change in policy or in the contract requirements for contractors relating to this change.

As was noted in the original request, I would like to ask in particular for those changes which have been made to ensure that you/your contractors are able to safely and accurately determine substantial risk under the new approach.

If no such guidance or changes have been issued, please can you clearly state that.

This request is pertaining to the reaction to COVID-19 and as such does not relate to any guidance issued prior to 01/03/2020.

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

Yours faithfully,

Finn Keaney

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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References

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2. http://www.gov.uk/dwp

DWP Central FOI Team,

Dear Finn Keaney,

Our Ref: IR2020/22564

Contact email: [1][DWP request email]

Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) review request.

You can normally expect a response to your FoI review request within 20
working days. However due to the current situation with COVID-19 it may
not be possible for us to reply to you within this timeframe.

The DWP will make every effort to respond to FoI reviews as we would
usually but the current situation may mean that available Departmental
resources are 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.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact the department
using the email address and reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Department for Work and Pensions

References

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DWP Central FOI Team,

Our ref: FOI2020/24681

Contact email: [1][email address]

Dear Finn Keaney,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 11th May.
Your request is being considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

You can normally expect a response to your FoI request within 20 working
days. However due to the current situation with COVID-19 it may not be
possible for us to reply to you within this timeframe.

The DWP will make every effort to respond to FOIs as we would usually but
the current situation may mean that available Departmental resources are
needed on other high priority areas.

We kindly ask for your understanding during this unprecedented situ ation
and we will aim to deal with your FOI request as soon as is practically
possible.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact the department
using the email address and reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

It has now been 33 working days since this was passed over for internal review. I am aware that under current situations there are staffing issues but having looked on whatdotheyknow.com I can also see that you are still responding to other, more recent, FOI requests. I apologise for adding additional noise to proceedings but you will understand that the nature of my request is quite specific to COVID-19 and as such a swift response would be greatly appreciated.

Please could you respond to my request or advise me as to a reasonable timeframe in which you might.

Thank you for your support with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Finn Keaney

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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1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.gov.uk/dwp

DWP Central FOI Team,

Dear Finn Keaney,

Our Ref: IR2020/31592

Contact email: [1][DWP request email]

Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) review request.

You can normally expect a response to your FoI review request within 20
working days. However due to the current situation with COVID-19 it may
not be possible for us to reply to you within this timeframe.

The DWP will make every effort to respond to FoI reviews as we would
usually but the current situation may mean that available Departmental
resources are 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.

If you have a ny queries about this letter, please contact the department
using the email address and reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Department for Work and Pensions

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

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

The Department is working hard to answer all FOI requests as soon as it is able to.

Although we are aiming to respond as soon as is practically possible, because of the ongoing CV-19 pandemic, we are focusing resources on frontline high-priority areas.

We will respond as soon as we are able to, but we are unable to provide a specific timescale.

We are sure you can understand how we are prioritising the Department's staffing resources to meet the need to support the vulnerable and how prioritising will temporarily impact on other areas of work.

Kind regards
DWP Central FoI Team

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Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

It has now been 47 days since this was passed for internal review. I have now passed this on to the Information Commissioner's Office as I am still awaiting your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Finn Keaney

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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2. http://www.gov.uk/dwp

DWP Central FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear Finn Keaney,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 11th
May.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your Internal
Review request.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

DWP Central FOI Team,

10 Attachments

Dear Finn Keaney,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 11th
May.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your Freedom of
Information request,

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 FOI FOI2020/24681, which you split off as a separate FOI request from my original request FOI2020/14504 'Health and Work Capability Assessments under COVID-19'. I understand from your reply that the internal review which has been done was against my original request FOI2020/14504.

The reason you have given for having logged a second request FOI2020/24681 was that my request for guidance and training materials came as a new request rather than as part of the original FOI2020/14504. Whilst it is true that I had not explicitly specified training materials in my original FOI, I had mentioned guidance – among other things – in the original.

Regardless, I thank you for your reply and appreciate that you have now provided the information requested as it relates to the WCA. However, this forms only half of my request, with the equivalent information for PIP Health Assessments still having been omitted from your response.

In the message I sent which you logged as FOI2020/24681 and which resulted in your releasing the guidance around WCAs, you will note that I have not specified that I am talking about WCAs. I have mentioned the phrase ‘substantial risk’ but this itself could apply either to Regulations 29 and 35 or to PIP’s Engaging with other people face to face activity. That you have - correctly - identified WCAs as being the focus of part of the request would indicate that you have cross-referenced FOI2020/24681 (which was meant rather as a clarification and Internal Review of FOI2020/14504) with FOI2020/14504 to ascertain what information exactly was being requested when it comes to WCAs.

I thank you for your efforts in this and would ask that you do the same with regards to PIP Health Assessments. My request was not for you to confirm that health assessments were taking place over the phone. My request was for you to provide copies of guidance, policy, communications, and training materials since 01/03/2020 on how to safely and accurately ascertain both functional ability (as in the PIP assessment) and substantial risk.

I apologise again if my original wording was not clear enough but as you have now correctly identified and released the information I was asking for in relation to the WCA, please do the same with regards to the PIP Health Assessment. Or, in the case that no such guidance, training or policy has been produced for PIP, please confirm this.

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

Yours faithfully,

Finn Keaney

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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2. http://www.gov.uk/dwp