UC - Wide sharing of claimant's data.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The following was reported yesterday on www.insidehousing.co.uk:

“Plans to share a host of data on benefit claimants, including health records and IT literacy, with landlords and charities have been condemned by a national tenant organisation.

Michael Gelling, chair of the tenants’ and residents’ Organisation of England (TAROE), said the government’s proposals for Universal credit claimants went ‘too far’ and were ‘very, very dangerous’.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is until Monday consulting on measures to allow sharing of information about claimants between the department, councils, housing associations, Citizens Advice bureaux, credit unions and charities. This is to enable organisations to provide support to claimants to stop them falling into arrears or struggling with debt.

Data to be shared includes details of debts, benefits, health conditions, qualifications, and level of digital skills. Mr Gelling said: ‘I don’t know how secure my landlords’ IT systems are.’

He added: ‘It’s very, very dangerous stuff without having a conversation with people. [The information] is none of social landlords’ business, as long as the rent is getting paid.

‘The DWP shouldn’t be telling organisations people are on universal credit. Some people, not everybody, can actually manage their benefits and get on with their life. Why does the landlord need to know?’”

Please provide the following information:

1. Which Minister is responsible for the proposed scheme?

2. What data is the DWP proposing to share (please be very specific in respect of health conditions)?

3. Has the DWP sought legal advice in respect of compliance with the Data protection Act?

4. Does the DWP believe that it already has sufficient consent from claimants to allow the data to be shared and if so why?

The article further states:

“Under the draft regulations, universal credit claimants must be told about the information sharing and can object.

The consultation document says objecting to information sharing can ‘undermine’ an individual’s claim. ‘Claimants will therefore need to be advised about the possible adverse consequences of objecting,’ the document says.

A DWP spokesperson said objecting to information sharing could make it difficult for claimants to get the support they need, but it would have no impact on their claim.”

5. How could refusing to share information undermine an individual's claim as it is unlawful to compel someone to share information under duress?

The article suggests the DWP position is contradictory as it cannot be the case that refusing to share could undermine a claim and at the same time say the opposite.

6. Will claimants be able to refuse to share their data without threat to any of their benefits (in whole or part)?

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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C Robinson left an annotation ()

A very well-worded FOI - I was going to write one myself;
nonetheless, yours is much better than I could articulate, thank you Mr Slater.

refuted left an annotation ()

Universal Credit data sharing between DWP and local support providers
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultati...

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Dear John Slater,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

You can expect a reply by 6/2/15 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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Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team,
Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

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John Slater left an annotation ()

@Refuted
Thank you for the link, I had come across the information during a search but I'm always grateful for any help.

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 - Wide sharing of claimant's data.'.

In its reply of 12th January 2015 the DWP stated:

"You can expect a reply by 6/2/15 unless I need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered."

As of 11th February 2015 the DWP has failed to comply with its statutory obligations under the FOIA.

I will allow a total time (inc this IRR) of 40 working days for the DWP to either comply with this RFI or issue a decision citing the statutory exemption(s) it is claiming to refuse disclosure. On the expiry of 40 working days I will complain to the Information Commissioner.

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.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

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References

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1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

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Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

Thank you for such a comprehensive and professional response.

Yours sincerely,

John Slater

John Slater left an annotation ()

It now appears that despite stating in its consultation document that refusing to share your data could adversely impact your UC claim that the DWP is now stating that it categorically won't happen:

"In respect of data sharing for Universal Support provision, the legislation allows for data to be shared, this will happen following a conversation with a claimant during which they will have the opportunity to decline to share some or all of the information. If someone prefers not to share information, there is categorically no impact on their claim for Universal Credit. Giving consent will enable Universal Support partnerships to offer tailored and more holistic support more quickly this will help to ensure that people get the level of support they need

We will be taking steps to ensure that data sharing complies with data protection principles; that claimant confidentiality is not compromised; and that no claimant is inadvertently put at risk. We are developing procedures and guidance that will clarify this."

I have to wonder if this will make it through to JCP staff who will probably use refusal as an excuse to sanction.

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Dear John Slater,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information review request.

Please note that it is our internal target to answer reviews within 20 working days unless I need to come back to you to clarify your request, or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered which we will keep you informed about.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team,
Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear John Slater,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information review request. Please find enclosed our reply.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

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