Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The PIP Service Specification FINAL v2.0 section of the PIP Contracts with Capita and Atos states:

“PART M - ONGOING CONTRACT AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

47.2. Engagement

47.2.1. Monthly meetings will be held between the representatives of the Authority and the Contractor. The Contractor will ensure that a suitably empowered representative attends these meetings. Such activity will be at no cost to the Authority.

47.2.2. The Contractor will attend strategic meetings to review the overall success of the Contract Lot at the frequency to be determined to discuss:
- operational strategies;
- efficiency opportunities.

47.2.3. The Contractor will attend a monthly contract management meeting to manage this contract and discussions will include but not be limited to:
- agreeing contractual change;
- reviewing contractual performance;
- resolving operational and contractual problems;
- transferring and exchanging information.”

It is normal professional practice that meeting minutes (they may be called something else by the Department) would be created for the meetings prescribed above. Any change requests would also be documented.

RFI1 – Please disclose the meeting minutes for the meetings prescribed in 47.2.1, 47.2.2 and 47.2.3 between DWP and Capita and DWP and Atos that took place in 2018. I do not seek anything that would breach S.40(2) FOIA.

RFI2 – Please disclose the change requests in respect of the 3 PIP contracts that were agreed by the contracting parties in 2017 and 2018. I do not seek anything that would breach S.40(2) FOIA.

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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

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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Health Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear John Slater,

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

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear [email address] on behalf of DWP Health Services Correspondence,

Thank you for your response. I am surprised that complying with my request would breach S.12 as it is normal professional practice to have the contract and any change requests easily to hand in order to manage any contract effectively. However, in light of your claim please remove RFI2 from my request and proceed with it as detailed below:

RFI1 – Please disclose the meeting minutes for the meetings prescribed in 47.2.1, 47.2.2 and
47.2.3 between DWP and Capita and DWP and Atos that took place in 2018. I do not seek
anything that would breach S.40(2) FOIA.

RFI3: In addition, if it is possible within S.12 costs limits please tell me how many change requests were agreed in 2017 & 2018 for the 3 PIP contracts.

Yours sincerely,

John Slater

no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Health Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear John Slater,

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

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 'PIP Contract Meetings - Minutes & Change Requests'.

Thank you for your reply, which does not reflect well on the Department. In its response of 07 August 2019 its stated:

“Under Section 16 of the Act we should help you narrow your request so that it may fall beneath the cost limit. You should decide which information is particularly of importance to you bearing in mind that your RFI 2 would singularly exceed the cost limit. During this period there were a significant volume of change requests and to extract these would take a disproportionate amount of time. You might like to narrow your request by asking for the minutes of the monthly performance meetings. We will consider afresh any revised request however we cannot
guarantee that any revised request will fall within the cost limit. “

In response to the Department’s section 16 advice I revised my RFI to accordingly. The Department is now claiming that:

“To respond to this request would be extremely burdensome in terms of resources as staff would have to be diverted away from completing their daily tasks and time due to the amount of information that has been requested and the large amount of redaction of information that would be required.

On this basis, the department has decided that Section 14(1) of the FOIA applies on this occasion.”

I believe that this demonstrates a deliberate attempt by the Department to block disclosure of information related to its management of the 3 PIP contracts and it is not compliant with the FOIA.

I suggest that the Departments switch from section 12 to section 14 is proof of this as it will be aware that redaction costs cannot be used to justify reliance on section 12. As such I fail to see why the Information Commissioner (“ICO”) or any Tribunal would allow it to be relied upon to justify reliance on section 14.

Furthermore, the ICO guidance and previous First-Tier Tribunal decisions require a balancing exercise to be undertaken by the Department to consider the value of the disclosure of this requested information versus the claimed detrimental impart on the Department. I suggest it is clear from the Department’s response that no such balancing exercise has been undertaken.

I argue that disclosure of the requested information is of significant public interest as it shines further light on the Department’s management of the PIP contracts. Information previously obtained via the FOIA disclosed significant issues exist and can be used to argue against the reliance of section 14 in this specific case.

I ask the Department to reconsider its decision to rely on section 14.

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

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.
 
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.
 
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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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Health Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear John Slater,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 22nd
September.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team