UC WCA Reassessments policy

Waiting for an internal review by Department for Work and Pensions of their handling of this request.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In the "Government Response to Work Capability Assessment: Activities and Descriptors Consultation" dated the 22nd November 2023, after highlighting the changes proposed to come into effect for Universal Credit claimants from 2025, the Secretary of State made the following statements:

"9. These changes will mean that almost all people who are currently assessed as having LCWRA will never face a WCA reassessment again."

"10. For the overwhelming majority of existing UC claimants, this is a guarantee that they will not be reassessed if they try work, and it does not work out."

"82... We have committed to ensuring no one currently assessed as having LCWRA will face a WCA reassessment, save in some exceptional circumstances. This will in effect abolish the WCA for this group..."

"86... The commitment that no one with an existing LCWRA decision today will be reassessed, except in a few limited circumstances, means that they can try work without fear of losing their LCWRA financial support."

The use of phrases such as "currently assessed as having LCWRA", "existing UC claimants", and "an existing LCWRA decision today" makes the inference that any Universal Credit claimant with an LCWRA decision TODAY will not be reassessed before 2025 at the earliest.

However, in an edition of the DWP's Touchbase newsletter, dated the 22nd September 2023, the DWP stated:

"Although we continue to prioritise new claims for a Work Capability Assessment, we plan to conduct more Department-led reassessments as we recover capacity post-Covid..."

The understanding has been that all LCW and LCWRA reassessments have been suspended since March 2020 (with the exception of a handful of reassessments in Summer 2023) to allow DWP to focus on New WCAs. Reassessments had been rumoured to be resuming in full from January 2024; however, the Government's recent statements have cast doubt on this.

Therefore, could you please:

1) Provide copies/details of the current DWP policy or guidelines regarding the resumption of WCA reassessments for UC claimants with an existing LCWRA or LCW decision, including any internal training or guidelines provided to the CHDA/HAAS regarding resuming these reassessments.

2) Clarify whether, under current DWP policy, reassessments of UC claimants with an existing LCWRA decision TODAY will resume before 2025 and, if so, when.

3) Clarify whether, under current DWP policy, reassessments of UC claimants with an existing LCW decision TODAY will resume before 2025 and, if so, when.

Redact information where applicable in accordance with law

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,

Barry Boyle

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

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freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gov.uk,

1 Attachment

Dear Barry Boyle,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 28th
November.

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 'UC WCA Reassessments policy', with particular focus on the prejudice test, which I think has overlooked some important points in favour of disclosure.

You have claimed an exemption from disclosure under Section 31(1)(a) of the FoI Act, which seeks to exempt information for the Prevention and Detection of Crime. However, I do not believe that you have conducted the prejudice test in a way that is justifiable or proportionate, and this has skewed the public interest test.

The request for which you have engaged this exemption is to receive "copies/details of the current DWP policy or guidelines regarding the resumption of WCA reassessments for UC claimants with an existing LCWRA or LCW decision, including any internal training or guidelines provided to the CHDA/HAAS regarding resuming these reassessments."

I would argue that it is disproportionate to claim a blanket exemption on any and all documents which fall within this request. I suggest that the vast majority of information contained in such documents will not qualify for this exemption.

You have identified at particular risk of prejudice that information which "provides specific examples that could be used by claimants to falsely tailor and present how their condition(s) affect them", though the likelihood of such harm arising has not been clearly evidenced.

In any event, I believe you could substantially and reasonably mitigate the severity of this risk by redacting any specific examples or other particularly sensitive information - as you have done in other FoI requests, (such as where commercial interests are involved) and as suggested in my initial request.

By taking such mitigations, I argue that there would no longer be a causal link between the disclosure and any likelihood of real, actual or substantial prejudice to law enforcement. As such, the strong public interest you have already identified in favour of disclosure would far outweigh any negating factors against.

I therefore request you reconsider disclosure of this information.

If redaction of all the relevant documents would engage an exemption in respect of the £600 cost limit, you should start from the most recent documents and work backwards until the limit is reached.

If the request still cannot be fulfilled, I am prepared to refer this request to the Information Commissioner for a determination.

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

Yours faithfully,

Barry Boyle

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

Thank you for contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
 
This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received by the DWP Freedom of Information mailbox and will be
processed accordingly.
 
Please note that this mailbox is for Freedom of Information (FOI) or
Internal Review (IR) requests only – If you have submitted a non FOI or IR
related email then we may not be able to action it.
 
 
Timescales for responding
 
Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests
 
If your email is a valid FOI request, as per Section 8 of the FOI Act
2000, you can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Internal Review (IR) Requests
 
You can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
We will respond to all valid FOI and IR requests within our statutory
timescales, if we are unable to do so then we will contact you to explain
why. Please note that we are not able to process your FOI or IR request in
any shorter timescales that you may indicate.
 
 
Receiving a response from us
 
Please note that email FOI and IR responses will be issued from
[email address]
 
We recommend that you add this address to your email contacts otherwise
the response may be treated as Spam or Junk by your email account
provider.  
 
 
Further Information
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with your FOI or IR
request please contact us.
 
More information on the DWP can be accessed on gov.uk here –
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
 

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freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gov.uk,

Our ref: IR2023/99311

Dear Barry Boyle,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) Internal Review request
received on 27 December 2023.

We are writing to advise you that we need more time to consider your
Internal Review request.

We are aiming to let you have a full response no later than the 23
February 2024.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FOI Team