Social media account quoted by Neil Couling as being suppprtive of Universal Credit.

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

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

On the 3rd of August 2018 the Twitter account for @NeilCouling stated

“Nice end to the week. UC claimant on work experience in jobcentre tells whole of DWP, UC is better than JSA, feels more customer-friendly, giving people responsibility for their money means work less of a culture-shock, that change is inevitable but this one is welcome.”

We asked Mr. Couling and 74 JCP accounts on Twitter which JCP this took place in. He repeatedly declined to answer and we have not received 1 response from JCP.

On the 8th of August he stated that the above event did not take place at a JCP but was on social media. He stated that it

“Wasn’t from a jobcentre visit, which perhaps explains why jobcentres haven’t responded”.

This was then further clarified when asked where it actually took place. He stated

“Sure, social media”.

We have asked Mr. Couling which social media account. He has declined to offer any response. Consequently, GMWRAG would therefore like to ask DWP and Mr. Couling some specific questions.

1) Please direct us to the specific social media account and the specific item where said account addresses the “whole of DWP”.

2) Please explain why 74 JCP Twitter accounts failed to offer any response to the question?

In answering both of the above please refer to and in particular the need to

“check the accuracy and sensitivity of what you are posting before pressing submit”.

Please also refer to and in particular the phrases

“honesty’ is being truthful and open” and “You must: set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully, and correct any errors as soon as possible”

“deal with the public and their affairs fairly, efficiently, promptly, effectively and sensitively, to the best of your ability”

“You must not: deceive or knowingly mislead ministers, Parliament or others”

“You must: provide information and advice, including advice to ministers, on the basis of the evidence, and accurately present the options and facts”

We look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,


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N. Lane left an annotation ()

You may find that this request will be unsuccessful - the DWP are know for responding like this:

On this occasion the Department will not be processing your response further.
This is because your request does not comply with Section 8(1)(b) of the FOI
Act. This means that to comply with your request the department requires that
you give your real name. The Information Commissioner (ICO) has issued
guidance for public authorities on this topic. The ICO considers that "the name
of the applicant refers to the real name of the applicant. You can see the
guidance issued by the ICO here:

GMWRAG left an annotation ()

Dear N. Lane,

Thank you for your comment. We are an organisation known to the DWP and Mr. Couling is already aware of a named representative and an address so such an outcome would be mischievous at best.

Please see


DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

FoI 3464

Please see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
Yours sincerely
DWP Strategy FoI Team

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Frank Zola left an annotation ()

The 'Social Media' "account" was on DWP internal intranet[redat...

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Have sent an email to WhatDoTheyKnow asking for FOI reply that included a link to[redac...

https:// intranet .dwp .gov .uk/users/[redacted]

to be reinstated, so the full real name of the "user" [redacted], who is a Universal Credit claimant* is removed, due to Data Protection obligation.


WhatDoTheyKnow could also add an annotation to confirm the DWP reply did originally include a link to DWP's closed 'social media' on it's intranet, which would allow a user to message the "whole" of the DWP.


@NeilCouling 7:25 PM - 3 Aug 2018 -
Universal Credit Director General

"Nice end to the week. UC claimant on work experience in jobcentre tells whole of DWP, UC is better than JSA, feels more customer-friendly, giving people responsibility for their money means work less of a culture-shock, that change is inevitable but this one is welcome.

@GMWRAGtweets Replying to @NeilCouling
Sorry? To be clear you’re saying that when you said the below that you were actually referring to something a claimant had said on social media? Could you identify the account for us please?

Replying to @GMWRAGtweets
Sure, social media
4:00 PM - 8 Aug 2018
1 Retweet 1 Like

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

On the 11th of September 2018 was alerted to the accidental release of personal information in the FOI response on this thread.

As is all too common it appears the DWP highlighted personal material which they intended to redact in black rather than removing it from the document.

We acted straight away to remove an individual's name, and an associated URL which contained their name. We've now reinstated the non-personal element of the URL which was of the form:[first...

This URL was not visible / functional when opening the PDF document in Preview on Mac but it may have been easier to access in other PDF readers; certainly it was present in the document and revealed by our "view as HTML" feature.

We reported the occurrence to the FOI team at the DWP and the DWP data protection officer. We suggested the Department improves its processes to ensure that intended redactions are effective.

The Department replied asking us to replace the released document with a poor quality jauntily scanned image of the document which did not contain the link. We don't replace documents in the manner they proposed, though we noted they are welcome to send a further response to the request thread.

We further noted their proposed replacement was provided in a hard to work with an inaccessible format and urged them to improve their procedures.

We always seek to run our service as transparently as possible. Our system does often replace material with the reason why it's been redacted but sometimes due to technical reasons it has to fall back to replacing material with "xxxxx" rather than the reason, and that has occurred here.

Richard - volunteer