Housing benefit payment process

Currently waiting for a response from Westminster City Council, they should respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,

What is your current internal process for making housing benefit decisions? Decisions seem to be made in a precise, orderly but inefficient fashion which suggests the existence of a list of rules or guidelines to be followed, possibly in the form of an algorithm or flow chart. Please publish this structured process, or whatever alternative methodology exists. Furthermore, time and finances permitting, please state who decided upon this process and how. Should this second part of this request prove too costly or otherwise undermine the purpose of this FOI request, please focus solely on publishing the details of the decision making process itself.

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan May-Bowles

Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7830034

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Dear Sir/Madam
 
Thank you for contacting Westminster City Council's Information Management
Team. 

Your query will be allocated for response, and someone will contact you
within 5 working days to confirm the details of your request and whether
it is subject to a fee. 

Please see the Westminster City Council website for further information on
Data Protection policies
- [1]http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/c...

Kindest regards, 
 
Information Management Team
Westminster City Council
5 Strand
London
WC2N 5HR
[email address]
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/c...

Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7830034

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
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 is your current internal process for making housing benefit
decisions? Decisions seem to be made in a precise, orderly but inefficient
fashion which suggests the existence of a list of rules or guidelines to
be followed, possibly in the form of an algorithm or flow chart. Please
publish this structured process, or whatever alternative methodology
exists. Furthermore, time and finances permitting, please state who
decided upon this process and how. Should this second part of this request
prove too costly or otherwise undermine the purpose of this FOI request,
please focus solely on publishing the details of the decision making
process itself.
Yours faithfully,
Jonathan May-Bowles 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

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

Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7830034

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Sir/Madam‏
 
Re. Freedom of Information Request  7830034
 
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 is your current internal process for making housing benefit
decisions? Decisions seem to be made in a precise, orderly but
inefficient fashion which suggests the existence of a list of
rules or guidelines to be followed, possibly in the form of an
algorithm or flow chart. Please publish this structured process,
or whatever alternative methodology exists. Furthermore, time and
finances permitting, please state who decided upon this process
and how. Should this second part of this request prove too costly
or otherwise undermine the purpose of this FOI request, please
focus solely on publishing the details of the decision making
process itself.
Yours faithfully,
Jonathan May-Bowles 
 

 
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.
The administration of, and decisions regarding, Housing Benefit are
governed by national legislation. Please clarify which element of 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][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [3]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
2. mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
3. file:///tmp/www.westminster.gov.uk

Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,

This request is very simple. Whilst you are correct that statute requires you to pay housing benefit and in what circumstances, the manner in which data is handled is an internal decision. For example, what document or documents dictate the order and frequency in which pieces of claimant information are requested? To give a hypothetical example, say a claim requires proofs A, B and C to be successful. You can request these proofs in a number of ways e,g,:

Please provide proof A
Wait for proof A
Verify proof A

Please provide proof B
Wait for proof B
Verify proof B

Please provide proof C
Wait for proof C
Verify proof C

Or you could use the following method:

Please provide proofs A, B, and C
Wait for proofs A, B, and C
Verify proofs A, B, and C

The second method is far more time efficient, yet the department clearly has a policy of using the first method, This is an example of an internal process, and is not defined by statute law. Please provide all such internal processes.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan May-Bowles

Jonathan May-Bowles

Dear Westminster City Council,

This request is very simple. Whilst you are correct that statute requires you to pay housing benefit and in what circumstances, the manner in which data is handled is an internal decision. For example, what document or documents dictate the order and frequency in which pieces of claimant information are requested? To give a hypothetical example, say a claim requires proofs A, B and C to be successful. You can request these proofs in a number of ways e,g,:

Please provide proof A
Wait for proof A
Verify proof A

Please provide proof B
Wait for proof B
Verify proof B

Please provide proof C
Wait for proof C
Verify proof C

Or you could use the following method:

Please provide proofs A, B, and C
Wait for proofs A, B, and C
Verify proofs A, B, and C

The second method is far more time efficient, yet the department clearly has a policy of using the first method, This is an example of an internal process, and is not defined by statute law. Please provide all documents detailing such internal processes that cover how claims are handled within the department, any checklists or other structural systems used and any guidelines or rules employees must follow.

To use another example: the government has told you to bake a cake. This is the legislative dimension. The council itself has decided on the recipe they will use to bake the cake. I would like to (metaphorically) see the recipe.

If you would like further simplification of this idea I will be happy to provide it.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan May-Bowles

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