Papers 7A & 7B from the 22/10/19 UCPB

Owen Stevens made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

1) Please provide unredacted copies of the following papers:
http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPaper...
http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPaper...

2) PLease also provide papers relating to the decision to redact those papers under s.36.

If the papers cannot be released in an unredacted format then please explain why and, if relying on s.36, how the procedural requirements of the exemption have been applied.

Yours faithfully,

Owen Stevens

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DWP Central FOI Team,

5 Attachments

Dear Owen Stevens,

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

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please review this response. I believe that the public interest is such that the information should be disclosed.

DWP's ability to adequately identify and support vulnerable individuals is an important issue at all times given the number of vulnerable people claimaing benefit. However, it is currently of particular relevance given the DWP plan to 'managed migrate' people claiming the old legacy benefit to universal credit - these people will be required to make claims for UC and if they fail to do so will have their existing benefits stopped. DWP say that extra leeway and 'safeguards' will be put in place to protect vulnerable people - but in order to do so DWP must be able to adequately identify and support people with vulnerabilities.

DWP currently plans to carry out the bulk of managed migration of 2023 and 2024 and to have completed managed migration by the end of 2024. A significant number of people will be managed migrated. An NAO Report (released in 2018 and titled ‘rolling out universal credit’) said that DWP estimated that they would managed migrate 3.95 million people. The large number of people likely to be managed migrated is a factor indicating the public interest in favour of disclosure. A large proportion of these people are likely to have vulnerabilities as people with long term health problems are less likely to have already moved onto UC as a result of a change of circumstances.

The NAO report states that “the Department’s research in October 2017 shows that some staff found it difficult to support claimants because they: i. lacked the time and ability to identify claimants who needed additional support; ii. lacked the confidence to apply processes flexibly and make appropriate adjustments; and iii. felt overwhelmed by the volume of claimants reporting health problems. The Public Accounts Committee subsequently stated that 'the Department is failing vulnerable claimants because it places too much reliance on the discretion of its work coaches to identify and manage the needs of people requiring extra support' and recommended that DWP 'set out, what more it will do to ensure that work coaches are well equipped to provide the right support packages for claimants including those with health needs and other vulnerabilities, and how it will measure and ensure this is happening in practice' (Universal Credit, PAC, 17/10/2018). In responding to the PAC recommendation DWP stated that 'it is critical that the Government ensures that the right support is available for those with health needs and disabilities and that is able to demonstrate that it is getting this right. However, Government does not accept that this is the result of
discretion and flexibility, but because these cases are extremely complex'.

There have, since then, been numerous instances of doubts being raised about DWP's ability to adequately identify and support vulnerable claimants. These include
1. comments by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) that 'Many of DWP’s policies and procedures recognise this and include extra steps to try to safeguard vulnerable customers, but too often this year I have seen cases where those steps have not been followed' (ICE annual report, 1/4/18-31/3/19);
2. criticisms by ICE following the death of Jodey Whiting and criticisms by coroners following the deaths of Alexander Boamah, Errol Graham, and Philippa Day;
3. the NAO found that 'The Department does not have all the information it needs to track vulnerable claimants and ensure its support is effective' (Universal Credit: getting to the first payment, 10/07/2020);
4. the Work and Pensions Committee recommended that DWP must 'immediately make improvements to the Universal Credit system to formalise how it identifies and defines vulnerable claimants, as part of its overall approach to safeguarding vulnerable people' (Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment, 14/10/2020)

There have been repeated concerns raised about DWP's ability to identify and support vulnerable claimants. DWP's ability to support vulnerable claimants through UC managed migration is going to be of great public interest as managed migration rolls out through 2023 and 2024. If there is a report which raises further concerns from within governement about DWP's ability to identify and support vulnerable claimants then it is in the public interest to release this information to inform changes to the way in which DWP delivers it's services to vulnerable claimants.

Yours faithfully,

Owen Stevens

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please indicate when I should expect a response to this internal review.

Thank you

Owen Stevens

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DWP Central FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear Owen Stevens,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 10th
December.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Owen Stevens left an annotation ()

Complaint to ICO accepted as eligible for further consideration on 29/1/22, ref IC-151084-P9G3

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

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Dear Mr Stevens,

 

Please see attached letter and related information.

 

Regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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