Means-checking claimants

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please kindly provide the procedure used to check you are not over-paying claimants. I would have thought it safer to bypass the claimants and perform some kind of detailed credit check which allows you to see the information you need. You did announce a while ago that you would also be cross-checking with HMRC.

In order to help my request here is a letter you sent to a claimant: http://freepdfhosting.com/5d574fce95.pdf

The letter, dated 23rd October 2016, informs a claimant that their Universal Credit has been suspended immediately because you do not know how much money the claimant has earned between 24th September 2016 and 23rd October 2016. The letter threatens to close the claim if such proof isn't received by 24th November 2016.

I'm concerned that you are relying on the claimant to provide you with such information. I'm also concerned that the claim was suspended without any notice giving the claimant no money to live on.

Yours faithfully,

Lee Jefferson

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.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

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References

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

FoI Reference: 4134

You can expect a reply by 25th November 2016 unless we need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact us quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI Team
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
 
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

Thank you for the information provided so far.

You state you are unable to open this (http://freepdfhosting.com/5d574fce95.pdf) link containing the letter provided as a background example. Please kindly provide a document format which you can read which needs to convey a DWP letter (with sensitive information blanked out). I can provide it in any format whatsoever as long as it retains the proof it was sent by the DWP.

A search of the Freedom of Information history shows numerous examples that your department has in the past been able to open such documents, perhaps most notably a historic request asking the DWP to explain its leaked 'commercially sensitive' scorecard (http://freepdfhosting.com/af6d5b75bd.pdf) to which you did respond and it was evident that you could read the document.

For reference here is what you have replied with thus far..

"Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 30 October 2016. You asked:
Please kindly provide the procedure used to check you are not over-paying claimants. I would
have thought it safer to bypass the claimants and perform some kind of detailed credit check
which allows you to see the information you need. You did announce a while ago that you
would also be cross-checking with HMRC.
In order to help my request here is a letter you sent to a claimant:
http://freepdfhosting.com/5d574fce95.pdf
The letter, dated 23rd October 2016, informs a claimant that their Universal Credit has been
suspended immediately because you do not know how much money the claimant has earned
between 24th September 2016 and 23rd October 2016. The letter threatens to close the claim
if such proof isn't received by 24th November 2016.
I'm concerned that you are relying on the claimant to provide you with such information. I'm
also concerned that the claim was suspended without any notice giving the claimant no money
to live on.
It may be helpful if I explain the role of the Freedom of Information Act. The Act provides a
right of access to recorded information held by a public authority like DWP (subject to certain
exemptions). The Act does not oblige a public authority to create new information to answer
questions; nor does it require a public authority to give advice, opinion or explanation in
relation to issues/policies under question.
Anyone can request copies of information which a public authority already holds in a recorded
form, but the Freedom of Information Act does not require the Department to generate
answers to questions, or create or obtain information it does not hold.
We were unable to open the link to the letter that was sent to the claimant so cannot comment
on the contents.
Entitlement to Universal Credit is calculated in monthly assessment periods. The amount of
Universal Credit paid reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household
each assessment period, including any earnings reported by the employer during that
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
e-mail: [email address]
Our Ref: FoI 4134
DATE:30 November 2016
assessment period. Monthly reporting allows Universal Credit to be adjusted on a monthly
basis, which ensures that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months
for a change in their Universal Credit.
Wherever possible, employed earnings are received through the Real Time Information (RTI)
system used by employers to report Pay As You Earn (PAYE) data to HMRC. RTI enables a
claimant’s Universal Credit award to be automatically adjusted to reflect their earnings, which
eases the reporting burden on claimants.
If earnings are not reported through RTI for any reason, the claimant needs to self-report their
earnings to DWP as they have the responsibility to manage their claim, including reporting
changes and paying their own housing costs. This is currently done via a telephone call to the
service centre.
The guidance is as follows:
Employed earnings are not received – LIVE SERVICE only
Where employed earnings are expected but not received, the process for Live service is:
• First assessment period (AP1) – if no earnings for a claimant are received at the end
of AP1 then the Universal Credit payment is calculated on the basis of nil earnings.
• Second assessment period (AP2) – if there are missing earnings in the end of the
following assessment period (a double zero), then the system automatically suspends the
award at the end of AP2 and the system prompts the case manager to contact the claimant.
o If a claimant self-reports earnings for previous APs: the UC award suspension is lifted
and arrears payment are made.
o If we don’t get hold of the claimant/claimant cannot self-report/RTI is not received in
the third assessment period (AP3): after 32 days of the claim being suspended the case
manager will get the consider claim closure “To do” and the award will be terminated.
Notes:
• If the claimant is a member of a couple and one of the members of the couple does
not receive RTI earnings for two consecutive assessment periods – the double zero policy and
process applies for both claimants and the claim is automatically suspended
• Normal rules apply regarding conditionality – once we receive earnings in AP2 the
suspension is lifted and the conditionality altered.
We only need earnings from AP2 to unsuspend a case. This is because there will be cases
when a claimant does not have earnings in AP1 to report. E.g. employer pays employees if
they have started before the 14th of that month. If an employer starts after that date (e.g. 18th)
their earnings for half of month one and all of month two will be paid at the end of month 2.
Employed earnings are not received – FULL SERVICE only
Where a claimant does not provide information or evidence within one calendar month of being
asked, their award of UC can be terminated.
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number
above.
Yours sincerely,
DWP Strategy FoI Team"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yours sincerely,

Lee Jefferson

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
 
Lee Jefferson
 
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
 
 
 

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Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your message in which you state you were unable to access the pdf file hosted at popular pdf hosting site (freepdfhosting.com). We did ask you to advise which file formats you were able to read, but your recent message suggested some specific security issue accessing anything hosted by 'freepdfhosting.com'.
You failed to specify however any method by which the file content could be supplied to you and while we don't wish to submit files on a 'shot in the dark' basis that you may or may not be able to read them.

We shall however provide you with the same file hosted by a different website on this one occasion. Please advise if you can read the file from here https://d.pr/19f1u

If you can read the file that will be fine. If it turns out you cannot read the file then we shall proceed via a different section of the FoIA. For reference we have used both 'freepdfhosting.com' and 'droplr' to over 300 FoI inlets and not one of them has advised us of a problem accessing the information.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Jefferson
Journalist.

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

FoI Reference: 220

You can expect a reply by 7th February 2017 unless we need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact us quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI Team
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your message in which you state you were unable to access the pdf file hosted at popular pdf hosting site (freepdfhosting.com). We did ask you to advise which file formats you were able to read, but your recent message suggested some specific security issue accessing anything hosted by 'freepdfhosting.com'.
You failed to specify however any method by which the file content could be supplied to you and while we don't wish to submit files on a 'shot in the dark' basis that you may or may not be able to read them.

We shall however provide you with the same file hosted by a different website on this one occasion. Please advise if you can read the file from here https://d.pr/19f1u

If you can read the file that will be fine. If it turns out you cannot read the file then we shall proceed via a different section of the FoIA. For reference we have used both 'freepdfhosting.com' and 'droplr' to over 300 FoI inlets and not one of them has advised us of a problem accessing the information.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Jefferson
Journalist.

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Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

On 18th January 2017 you stated "Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. FoI Reference: 220
You can expect a reply by 7th February 2017 unless we need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered."

It is now 15th February 2017 and we have received no reply on this.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Jefferson
Journalist

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 'Means-checking claimants'.

On 18th January 2017 you stated "Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. FoI Reference: 220
You can expect a reply by 7th February 2017 unless we need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered."

It is now 15th February 2017 and we have received no reply on this.

We have published hundreds of requests under the Freedom of Information Act giving reference to documents and not a single authority has had a problem accessing them - except for DWP who have claimed they cannot access them (via freepdfhosting). We then provided a secondary link to the document this time hosted by Droplr but you failed to respond within the time you stated whether you could open that document or not.

It is necessary for journalists and members of the public to give reference to documents held in a digital format in order to better convey the requests made. You are obligated to provide information conveying acceptable links to documents which can be read by viewers of whatdotheyknow.com and yourselves.

Again please provide information as to whether the links presented can be read - and if not provide alternate links to where we should place the digital documents in the interests of transparency.

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

Yours faithfully,

Lee Jefferson
Journalist

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.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for your Freedom of Information review request.

Please note that it is our internal target to answer reviews within 20 working days unless I need to come back to you to clarify your request, or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered which we will keep you informed about.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI Team

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team,
Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
Mr Jefferson
 
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
 
 
 

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Lee Jefferson left an annotation ()

DWP provided an email address within their reply from which a document can be provided for them to read as part of the FoIA.

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 

 

Please see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

DWP Strategy FoI Team

 

 

 

 

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