Please provide links/reference to any documentation which clarifies the meaning of DWP/Welfare reform terminology.

Jonathan Kendall made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Jonathan Kendall

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

While reading through documentation providing guidelines and legislation covering benefit claimant rights and responsibilities I am troubled by the use of what read like weasel words. These do appear to me to give the people administering and enforcing the act rather a lot of wriggle room in terms of how they interpret what they can mandate and exactly what benefit claimant responsibilities are.

Also, I notice that far greater weight is put behind claimant responsibilities than is put behind what commitments claimants have the right to expect and directions they have the right to refuse.

This in mind, any documentation you are aware of which will help shed more light on claimant rights and DWP responsibilities will be most welcome. Please be thorough.

Allow me to express two of my queries, which I outline in the first paragraph, as questions. I understand the freedom of information act does not require new information to be produced, however, it is sometimes I think easier to express the fact I seek documentation which answers queries. However, do please feel to try to answer the question too, if you are able.

The two expressions which recur frequently which cause me the most difficulty are those which appear to state that DWP operatives are allowed to mandate claimants do anything they deem reasonable. Do please look for the word "reasonable" where it refers in the documentation to the responsibilities given to claimants by DWP operatives. The other which appears to lack definition are matters which are said to be settled by "advisor discretion". Please feel free again to refer to places in the documentation for which matters are said to be ably decided according to "advisor discretion".

For illustration purposes, DWP staff are not necessarily the most reasonable of all people. Also, their discretion is frequently something which leaves much to be desired. It troubles me greatly that matters of reasonableness and discretion are placed in the hands of a workforce who between them present something of a lottery in the matters of being reasonable and discrete. Many of the Jobcentre plus employees I have spoken to appear not to score on either count. They do often appear score very highly on viciousness, poor decision making, arrogance and resting on their own stereotypical views on benefit claimant intelligence and capability.

For these reasons I am most curious about any documentation placing sensible limits defining advisor discretion and reasonability, including sensible governance of matters which fall down to the Byzantine nightmare therein.

Therefore, please assist by supplying any documentation which elucidates on the definition of said advisor discretion and reasonability which so often appears to decide what befalls the unfortunate claimant. Exemplifying such reason, in my own case, was an advisor who reasoned that, because I am professionally qualified, it made perfect sense to mandate me to participate in a work program which had me banging nails into fence posts for four weeks. Actually, I already know reasonably well how to bang nails into pieces of wood. Is this the sort of thing referred to as "reasonable"? Is this what is permitted within "advisor discretion"? Because it wholly contradicts my own sense of reason and discretion.

Please forgive me for the convoluted nature of this request, I am having difficulty remaining reasonable whilst feeling extremely angry at how I am treated by, by my own sense of reason, idiotic DWP staff. In order to aid clarity, I have placed the key component within minus signs above. Please do though feel at liberty to try to respond to this whole sorry, and in my view entirely unreasonable, affair.

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan Kendall

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Dear Mr Kendall,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

You can expect a reply by 7 July, unless I 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 me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

DWP Central FoI Team

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Mr Kendall,
Please find attached the reply to your recent Freedom of Information
request reference number 2351 with associated documents:
Thank you,
DWP Freedom of Information Team

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