Under occupancy and contacting vulnerable tenants

christina moriarty made this Freedom of Information request to Camden Borough Council

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 refused by Camden Borough Council.

christina moriarty

Dear Camden Borough Council,

The team formed to make initial contact with council tenants claiming housing benefit and considered to be under occupying have been contacting tenants by telephone and by letter.

This includes tenants with identified mental health problems, tenants receiving care packages from Camden, tenants who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance/Attendance Allowance and tenants who are in the support group for Employment and Support Allowance.

There is serious concern in the community about the nature of the contact, the quality of advice given and the impact on tenants who are accepted as vulnerable.

Therefore please provide the following information:

(1) Please confirm what data source is being used as the primary contact list?

(2) If the information is provided by DWP or Housing Benefit then it will be clearly indicated if the tenant is in receipt of a disability/serious ill health benefit. Please confirm this.

(3) If the housing management database (Northgate) or social services database (framework-i) is being used then vulnerability/disability will be indicated. Please confirm if this team uses these databases for source information.

(4) Within the same department are other teams who work with vulnerable tenants, This includes Tenancy Support who work with those with severe mental health problems, Camden's Welfare Rights and Debt teams who have clients referred to them by housing management and other specialist employed workers.

Please confirm if the team contacting tenants under occupying are checking with any of these teams as to whether the tenant is known to them and vulnerable. Please provide a copy of the written protocol around contacting vulnerable tenants.

(5) A very significant number of very vulnerable tenants have received telephone calls from this team and some with follow up visits. Please provide details of the safeguards Camden have put in place to protect vulnerable tenants from the significant distress a cold call may cause. In particular provide WRITTEN PROTOCOL of the safeguards in place including the pre-checks, flags that workers should be aware of, follow up concerns

(6) Please explain the checks the team members have undertaken to ensure that each tenant has agreed under Data Protection Act for their telephone number to be shared and used in this manner. Please state under EXACTLY which provision of the DPA Camden believe this to be proportionate and legal.

(7) Please confirm that this team are working to targets and confirm what these targets are

(8) A significant proportion of tenants being contacted have mental health issues. Many of them serious and enduring requiring ongoing support.

With specific regard to Mental Health training please confirm EXACTLY what training the team members have had regarding mental distress and risks associated with this. Please provide details of ongoing supervision and training in this area.

(9) Please provide any Equality Impact Assessment done in relation to how this policy of contacting tenants affects tenants with disability.

(10) Give figures from March 2013 of how many tenants have been contacted by telephone and how many have been visited by this team. Give figures of how many were identified as receiving a qualifying disability/sickness benefit and/or care package.

(11)Give figures for how many of these tenants were were informed in the contact of availability of Discretionary Housing Payments and how to claim these. Give figures of how many were FORMALLY referred for Welfare Rights Advice and/or specialist support. Please provide a blank copy of the assessment form used by this team.

(12) Please explain in detail how the risk to vulnerable tenants is assessed when advising them that they can take in a lodger. This includes the impact on them financially and ALL safeguarding and safety issues. There is major concern that vulnerable tenants are being encouraged to take in a lodger without consideration being given to risks associated with this.

(13) Give details of which Social Services/Housing Committee/sub-group is monitoring the performance of this team and the contact details of the chair

Yours faithfully,

Christina Moriarty

Peter Williams, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Camden Council - Information request (FOI/EIR) - Housing and adult social
care

Our reference: 8768640

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Dear Ms Moriarty

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request received on 20
August 2013

You requested information on:

The team formed to make initial contact with council tenants claiming
housing benefit and considered to be under occupying have been contacting
tenants by telephone and by letter.
This includes tenants with identified mental health problems, tenants
receiving care packages from Camden, tenants who are in receipt of
Disability Living Allowance/Attendance Allowance and tenants who are in
the support group for Employment and Support Allowance.
There is serious concern in the community about the nature of the contact,
the quality of advice given and the impact on tenants who are accepted as
vulnerable.
Therefore please provide the following information:
(1) Please confirm what data source is being used as the primary contact
list?
(2) If the information is provided by DWP or Housing Benefit then it will
be clearly indicated if the tenant is in receipt of a disability/serious
ill health benefit. Please confirm this.
(3) If the housing management database (Northgate) or social services
database (framework-i) is being used then vulnerability/disability will be
indicated. Please confirm if this team uses these databases for source
information.
(4) Within the same department are other teams who work with vulnerable
tenants, This includes Tenancy Support who work with those with severe
mental health problems, Camden's Welfare Rights and Debt teams who have
clients referred to them by housing management and other specialist
employed workers.
Please confirm if the team contacting tenants under occupying are checking
with any of these teams as to whether the tenant is known to them and
vulnerable. Please provide a copy of the written protocol around
contacting vulnerable tenants.
(5) A very significant number of very vulnerable tenants have received
telephone calls from this team and some with follow up visits. Please
provide details of the safeguards Camden have put in place to protect
vulnerable tenants from the significant distress a cold call may cause. In
particular provide WRITTEN PROTOCOL of the safeguards in place including
the pre-checks, flags that workers should be aware of, follow up concerns
(6) Please explain the checks the team members have undertaken to ensure
that each tenant has agreed under Data Protection Act for their telephone
number to be shared and used in this manner. Please state under EXACTLY
which provision of the DPA Camden believe this to be proportionate and
legal.
(7) Please confirm that this team are working to targets and confirm what
these targets are
(8) A significant proportion of tenants being contacted have mental health
issues. Many of them serious and enduring requiring ongoing support.
With specific regard to Mental Health training please confirm EXACTLY what
training the team members have had regarding mental distress and risks
associated with this. Please provide details of ongoing supervision and
training in this area.
(9) Please provide any Equality Impact Assessment done in relation to how
this policy of contacting tenants affects tenants with disability.
(10) Give figures from March 2013 of how many tenants have been contacted
by telephone and how many have been visited by this team. Give figures of
how many were identified as receiving a qualifying disability/sickness
benefit and/or care package.
(11)Give figures for how many of these tenants were were informed in the
contact of availability of Discretionary Housing Payments and how to claim
these. Give figures of how many were FORMALLY referred for Welfare Rights
Advice and/or specialist support. Please provide a blank copy of the
assessment form used by this team.
(12) Please explain in detail how the risk to vulnerable tenants is
assessed when advising them that they can take in a lodger. This includes
the impact on them financially and ALL safeguarding and safety issues.
There is major concern that vulnerable tenants are being encouraged to
take in a lodger without consideration being given to risks associated
with this.
(13) Give details of which Social Services/Housing Committee/sub-group is
monitoring the performance of this team and the contact details of the
chair
Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If appropriate, the information may be provided in paper copy, normal font
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For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions which may
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If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
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Yours sincerely

Peter Williams
Information Access Officer (HASC)

Email: [email address]
Phone: 020 7974 4372
Fax: 6472

christina moriarty

Dear Peter Williams,

You have acknowledge my FOI enquiry and sent me Camden's acknowledgement.

However Q8 relating to vulnerable tenants with severe mental health problems has been partially deleted from your own records.

Please confirm that this omission is an oversight and send the corrected FOI acknowledgement. Please will you also confirm that the officer/team dealing with this request will have the FULL version in order to prevent un-necessary delay and further requests for information

Many Thanks

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

christina moriarty

Dear Peter Williams,

Please respond to my query relating to Q8 not being included in the acknowledgement sent to me. It was not copied on to Camdens own summary and will result in an incomplete reply if this is passed on to the team concerned without amendment

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Michael Warby, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Camden Council - Information request (FOI/EIR) - Central team

Our reference: 8768640

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Ms. Moriarty

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request received on 20^th
August 2013. Your request has now been considered and our response is
enclosed.
 
You requested information on the following:
(1) Please confirm what data source is being used as the primary contact
list?
Response
The data regarding tenants that are under occupied is obtained from
Housing Benefit records.
 
(2) If the information is provided by DWP or Housing Benefit then it will
be clearly indicated if the tenant is in receipt of a disability/serious
ill health benefit. Please confirm this.
Response
The under occupied report only gives details relevant to the possible
under occupation of the property. It does not indicate if the tenant is
receiving any disability benefits as this is not relevant to these
regulations. 
 
(3) If the housing management database (Northgate) or social services
database (framework-i) is being used then vulnerability/disability will be
indicated. Please confirm if this team uses these databases for source
information.
Response
The Visiting Team uses Northgate but does not access Social Services
data. Vulnerability and/or disability are not always indicated on the
housing database because this information is not always known to the
housing management service
 
(4) Within the same department are other teams who work with vulnerable
tenants, This includes Tenancy Support who work with those with severe
mental health problems, Camden's Welfare Rights and Debt teams who have
clients referred to them by housing management and other specialist
employed workers.
Please confirm if the team contacting tenants under occupying are checking
with any of these teams as to whether the tenant is known to them and
vulnerable. Please provide a copy of the written protocol around
contacting vulnerable tenants.
Response
There are currently 1188 council tenants affected by the size criteria and
it would be impractical to contact all the various specialist teams and
services in every case. However, where information about support workers
and key contacts is indicated on the housing database then further
enquiries are made. There is no specific written protocol around
contacting these tenants for these purposes.
 
(5) A very significant number of very vulnerable tenants have received
telephone calls from this team and some with follow up visits. Please
provide details of the safeguards Camden have put in place to protect
vulnerable tenants from the significant distress a cold call may cause. In
particular provide WRITTEN PROTOCOL of the safeguards in place including
the pre-checks, flags that workers should be aware of, follow up concerns
Response
All housing staff receive training in safeguarding vulnerable adults.
There is no written protocol, but before tenants are contacted, checks are
made on the housing database for information about vulnerability, risks or
communication preferences. Workers follow up contacts and concerns by
making referrals to the in-house floating support service, Adult Social
Care or other services if appropriate.
 
(6) Please explain the checks the team members have undertaken to ensure
that each tenant has agreed under Data Protection Act for their telephone
number to be shared and used in this manner. Please state under EXACTLY
which provision of the DPA Camden believe this to be proportionate and
legal.
Response
The tenants have provided their contact details to housing or the Benefits
Service and these have been recorded on the relevant system. When
providing this information the tenant would expect it to be used by these
departments to contact them with regards to housing or benefit issues. The
details have not been shared with other departments or agencies, other
than with the consent of the tenant concerned, and the information has
only been used by the joint Housing and Benefits Team to contact and
assist the tenant with regard to their housing rent account and their
benefit payments. Therefore our use of this data is both proportionate and
legal under the Data Protection Act.
In addition Regulation 9 of the Social Security (Information-sharing in
relation to Welfare Services etc.) Regulations 2012 specifically allows
the sharing of Benefit data with Social Sector landlords for the purpose
of:
3(a) identifying housing benefit claimants who are or may be affected by
regulations relating to under-occupation, and providing appropriate types
of advice, support and assistance to such persons;
The action we have taken with regard to contacting claimants affected by
the size criteria clearly falls within this regulation 
 
 (7) Please confirm that this team are working to targets and confirm what
these targets are
Response
There are no numeric targets associated with this work. The teams aim is
to give advice to as many tenants as possible who are affected by the
social sector size criteria.
 
(8) A significant proportion of tenants being contacted have mental health
issues. Many of them serious and enduring requiring ongoing support.
With specific regard to Mental Health training please confirm EXACTLY what
training the team members have had regarding mental distress and risks
associated with this. Please provide details of ongoing supervision and
training in this area.
Response
There has been no specific mental health training given to the team but
all housing staff receive training in safeguarding vulnerable adults. The
housing management service is currently exploring the possibility of
additional training in stress, anxiety and depression to front-line teams.
 
(9) Please provide any Equality Impact Assessment done in relation to how
this policy of contacting tenants affects tenants with disability.
Response
No equality impact assessment has been carried out in relation to this
exercise. The decision to introduce Social sector size Criteria was made
by central government and the Benefits service was legally obliged to
introduce it. The Service regularly contacts claimants with regard to
changes to their benefits and the regulations outlined in point 6 clearly
allow us to provide advice, support and assistance for these purposes.  
 
(10) Give figures from March 2013 of how many tenants have been contacted
by telephone and how many have been visited by this team. Give figures of
how many were identified as receiving a qualifying disability/sickness
benefit and/or care package.
Response
1173 tenants have been given advice by telephone or by a home visit. The
team do not record details of disability benefits or care packages.
 
(11)Give figures for how many of these tenants were informed in the
contact of availability of Discretionary Housing Payments and how to claim
these. Give figures of how many were FORMALLY referred for Welfare Rights
Advice and/or specialist support. Please provide a blank copy of the
assessment form used by this team.
Response
As part of the general advice all the tenants are told about Discretionary
Housing Payments. To date, the team has supported 30 applications for DHP.
136 tenants have been referred for benefits advice, 48 for debt advice, 69
for budgeting advice, 86 for employment and training advice and 290 for
support with downsizing. Assessment form attached.
 
(12) Please explain in detail how the risk to vulnerable tenants is
assessed when advising them that they can take in a lodger. This includes
the impact on them financially and ALL safeguarding and safety issues.
There is major concern that vulnerable tenants are being encouraged to
take in a lodger without consideration being given to risks associated
with this.
Response
The possibility of taking in a lodger is mentioned as just one option,
among many, offered as part of the overall advice programme. Tenants have
not been encouraged to take in a lodger; they are informed about the
personal safety considerations as well as financial implications of doing
so and are recommended to get more advice before taking this step.
 
(13) Give details of which Social Services/Housing Committee/sub-group is
monitoring the performance of this team and the contact details of the
chair 
Response
It would be unusual for day to day work with tenants to be monitored
specifically by a committee however the work of the team falls within the
remit of the HASC scrutiny panel which is chaired by Councillor
Apak[1][email address]
 
The effectiveness of the team is monitored by the Welfare Reform Steering
Group chaired by Lesley Pigott Assistant Director of Finance (Revenues)
[2][email address].uk  .Individual tenants and their
circumstances are not discussed.

Please note the information is still covered by copyright legislation. You
are not authorised to re-use this information for commercial or research
purposes as defined by the Re-Use of Public Sector Regulations 2005. If
you do wish to re-use this information please contact the Information
Access Team, Legal Services/ Second Floor, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street,
London WC1H 9JE, who will assess your request. 

If you are unhappy with any aspect of the way in that your request has
been processed then you have the right to issue a complaint. If you wish
to issue a complaint, please set out in writing your grounds of appeal
(within 2 months of this correspondence) and send it to: Access to
Information Team, Legal Services, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, London,
WC1H 9LP and your complaint will be administered through our Internal
Review procedure.
 
If you are still not satisfied following the Internal Review, you have a
right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office. They can be
contacted at: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.
Telephone: 01625 545 700
[3]www.ico.gov.uk

 
Yours sincerely

Michael Warby
Access to Information Officer - FOI & DPA

Email: [email address]
Phone: 020 7974 7857
 
 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Dear Camden Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Camden Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Under occupancy and contacting vulnerable tenants'.

Thank you for your response however there are some clarifications requested given the inconsitencies in the detail. I will deal with them as numbered within the request.

(Q1/2/3)It is stated that the data is collected from both Housing Benefit(HB) databases and the housing Management database Northgate. It is also stated in your response that the underoccipied report from HB does not state which benefit the tenant is claiming. Please confrim that this is EXACTLY what you mean - that NOWHERE on the data being used is the type of benefit stated.

I do not accept at this stage given the other information I have that this is the case. I am not requesting whether or not Camden consider this to be relevant to the legislation I am asking you to confirm that NOWHERE on the data this team works with is it not indicated that the tenant recives DLA/CA/IS (Incap)/ESA/ESA Support Grp/SDP/Disability Premiums?

Any one of these would indicate to any team member that there are disability/ incapcity issues of concern and Camden therefore have a clear duty of care to these vulnerable groups that goes beyond the selective legislation you quote. You have a number of duties under a number of statutes.

(Q4) The response to this question verges on contemptuous and unsafe professional behaviour and given that you admit to ABSOLUTELY NO protocol and safeguarding procedures around contacting mentally vulnerable people appears neglectful of duty and in breach of the Equality Act.

The effect of this team deciding it would be 'impractical' to contact support teams where vulnerability is indicated ( and you admit to knowing some of this from Northgate data)is that severely mentally ill tenants are further put at risk by unsolicited calls.You claim to 'make enquiries' but have absolutely no process or protocol for doing this, have absolutely no mental health training, cant provide the assessment tool or form as requested and don't have a formal referral process. Please confirm that this is correct and exactly why these are not in place.You don't even appear to have an alert system to notify the teams you dont want dialogue with so they can offer support to tenants distressed and unable to cope with being told they may lose their homes

No one in Camden gets a a specialist support team/ social care intervention/care package without their needs being assessed as Critical or Substatntial. Your assertion that you dont get the benefit information that flags disability (nor think it is relevant), that it is in all sense and purposes impractical to take this in to consideration at cold calling point is neglectful. Why do you not have a system do protect this group given your own directorate has assessed them to be at risk? Why is there not even an alert system>?

(Q6) I asked for the exact provision under the DPA that you belive the sharing of PERSONAL information - in this case telephone numbers- applies. You have not provided this.

You are required to work under the terms of the DPA when applying the legislation you quote. Reg.9 does NOT allow Camden to share telephone numbers for purposes not intended by the data subject it has a completely different scope. Different legislation/Regs allows for this in fraud investigations but this work is outside of this.

So provide me with the DPA info as it applies to this request as used in cold calling tenants who have not given explicit consent to be contacted in this manner ( and indeed some of whom have requested nver to be telephoned)

(Q9) You have stated that there has been absolutely no Equality Impact Assessment for this work under this statute despite the fact that even by your own admission within the response ( and from Cabinet) the effect of this action disproprtionately affects people with disabilities. You appear to completely dismiss the need for any consideration of disability or vulnerability from set up and systems, day to day working, lack of protocols, training and policies or general concern at all. In fact there appears to be absolutely NOTHING inbuilt in this team's delivery that gives ANY consideration to disability when making contact and advising. You seem to be genuinely shocked that anyone might consider this necessary to fulfill the 'support' you claim to offer.

The regulations and statute from central government do NOT allow you to operate outside the Equality Act 2010 and as a you are required to have considered tenan's disability needs AND make reasonable adjustments.

How have you done this given you have no systems or intent in place to flag, assess, alert?

(Q11)
You can give figures for how many of the 1188 identified tenants you have referred for benefit/debt/budgeting/work/downsizung advice.

However you cannot give a single figure for how many tenants have been referred to social services/specialist teams for support or referred back to the existing teams in place. If I have got this wrong then please give me the figures. Otherwise how EXACTLY do you meet the duty of care required at the standard required of a local authority ( and the same Directorate in Camden)?

You have made very vague statements about recognising this as a possible issue (but only of it is not 'impractical') yet you have collated figures for other referrals that give you a data set for the only statute you seem to think applies here. Please explain why there is no equivilent tick box 'data set for referrals to the teams stated above? Is this because you as a team/department do not think that the impact on tenants with critical and substabtial need is relevant to your work?

(Q12) This is one of the most unsafe responses I have ever seen.
You have already admitted to not checking on vulnerability in most cases and seem to be stating that Northgate does not indicate when there is a known safeguarding issue or allow for an alert? Please confirm this.

You have stated that it is 'imprcatical' to check with all care teams if someone is vulnerable. You claim that you have no idea if someone has a disability or is in a caring situation.

So how do you then apply safeguarding measures when advising people of the possibility of lodgers? You state that tenants 'have not been encouraged to take a lodger'. EVERY SINGLE TENANT that has been contacted in this area that myself and others are aware of have been told this is a viable option.

What is disturbing is that this is being put forward to extremely vulnerable people with severe mental health issues that are already at risk , some of whom are already known to have safeguarding concerns which are recorded as such and are being advised by workers who have ABSOLUTELY NO MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING to consider taking in a lodger

A final supplementary question given that the responses here are not credible and deeply concerning in tone, content and ommissions:

What quality controls are in place for this scheme and have Camden done any INDEPENDENT research on the impact this team/department's approach is having?

It doesnt matter if legislation is imposed from central government. Camden still have to apply the scheme within ALL legislation that applies to vulnerable and disabled tenants and there is clear legal liability when you dont.

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,

christina moriarty

Warby, Michael, Camden Borough Council

Dear Ms Moriarty
 
Thank you for your correspondence of 13th September 2013. I have studied
your correspondence and while you have marked it as a request for an
internal review, I have deemed that only your points concerning questions
1, 2, 3 and 6 would be applicable to a review as it appears that you are
of the opinion that a full response to these questions was not provided.
All of the other points that you raise concerning questions 4, 9, 11, 12
and your subsequent question are in relation to issues that you noted
about the Councils practice relating to the response you received in line
with your request. As these are not issues with the actual information
that was provided as part of the response but more in line with the
practices and policies of the Council I believe that these questions
cannot be considered as part of an internal review but will need to be
addressed but the relevant officers separately from your internal review.
 
Can you please confirm if you are happy for me to put forward your
questions 1, 2, 3 and 6 for review and submit your questions 4, 9, 11, 12
and your subsequent question to the relevant officers for them to respond?
 
Until I receive clarification of how you wish to proceed with this
request, I will not be in a position to action this matter further.
 
Kind regards
 
Michael Warby
Access to Information Officer - FOI & DPA
 
Telephone: 020 7974 7857
 

show quoted sections

Dear Michael Warby

Thank you for your prompt response.

Yes I think that would be the sensible way forward.

Unsurprisingly I am deeply skeptical that this team/department will be transparent but I accept that there are limitations to what Camden will disclose within a FOI request.

With regards to Q4,9,11 and 12 I will wait and see what the officers response contains before deciding on any further action.

I would hope that they actually review their practices in full given that there have now been very serious events following their contact with tenants with mental health problems

Kind Regards

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Michael Warby, Camden Borough Council

Camden Council - Information request (FOI/EIR) - Central team

Our reference: 8768640

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Ms. Moriarty

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - Application for Internal review

I acknowledge receipt today of your request of 17^th September 2013
constituting an application for an internal review of the reply issued to
you on 12^th September 2013. In line with your instructions we will only
be considering questions 1, 2, 3 and 6 at the internal review stage but
will pass the queries that you have raised concerning questions 4, 9, 11,
12 and your subsequent question to the relevant officers for them to
respond directly.
 
The Borough Solicitor will consider your request.
 
It has been listed provisionally for consideration on 2^nd October 2013.
 
For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions that may
prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the
information will not be released. You will be informed if this is the
case, including your rights of appeal.
 
If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you. If you have any queries or concerns then
please contact me at the address above.
 
Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow 
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700
[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Michael Warby
Access to Information Officer - FOI & DPA

Email: [email address]
Phone: 020 7974 7857

References

Visible links
1. http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/

Dear Michael Warby,

I imagine Camden will do eveything they can to avoid responding to the very serious concerns regarding the policies and procedures for contacting tenants with KNOWN mental health issues already assessed as critical and substantial.

This will include using every provision of every act going because you simply would prefer to deny that there is a problem and that you did not provide the duty of care owed to these individuals.

And by now you will be aware of some of the very serious consequences this has now had on some people's safety which will make you more defensive than ever.

It would be so much more helpful for Camden to actually spend the time putting in policies and safeguards. Remember you are COLD CALLING extremely vulnerable tenants some of whom have become suicidal following contact. No one in the community thinks this is an acceptable way of trying to deal with government imposed legislation however this team try and justify it.

You can wait for a legal case and/or negative publicity or you can do what you should have done in the first place and get it right and be somewhat less arrogant when challenged. Although from the tone of the original response that may mean getting new management.At the moment you give the impression that you dont care and want tenants out any way that may happen. It is what tenant's experiences are

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Veronica Epstein left an annotation ()

This is a case of a council claiming that it is the government's 'fault' that they chooses to treat such unwell tenants this way as they have to meet targets to save money. Around here too (kilburn) people think that the council really actually wants tenants out any way possible including in a box.

I wonder when Camden respond that mental health training in 'stress, anxiety and depression to front-line teams ' do they mean that this is for their poor harrassed and rather well paid workers so that they can manage the stress of driving people to suicide?

I agree with you ( and so does everyone I speak to) that Camden have used this policy to harrass the most vulnerable in a way that is shameful.

I sat in with a neighbour with severe schizophrenia who was told to think about getting a lodger by the woman visiting. She certainly lacked mental health awareness at the most basic level and was much more interested in going through options that were impossible for my neighbour to comprehend.Despite me telling her that this was too stressful.

As this person gets a worker regularly and is in hospital often and housing know the situation as police are often here then it is impossible for camden to say they dont know.They must be already spending a lot of money on carers and day centres for her. The camden woman seemed to know that she was on an incapacity benefit and disability. She also didnt tell her anything about any fund that camden have to make the difference up in the rent - is this the discretionary housing payment?

Well done camden. Well done the councillors who let this happen and didn't do anything. We all know cases so please stop denying this is happening.You simply dont care if tenants are stressed and since these 'workers' have no mental health training why are they let near frail ill people with disabilites.

christina moriarty

Dear Michael Warby,

Despite stating that consideration would be given to providing the information requested by Internal Review by 2nd October there has been absolutely no response from either the Borough Solicitor or the managers of the department/team concerned

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Michael Warby, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Camden Council - Information request (FOI/EIR) - Central team

Our reference: 8768640

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Ms Moriarty

Freedom of Information Act 2000

We have now considered your recent application for an internal review of
our response to your request for information under the Act. Please find
our response attached. 

Yours sincerely

Peter Williams
Access to Information Officer

Email: [email address]
Phone: 020 7974 7857

christina moriarty

Dear Michael Warby,

Thank you for the response from the Borough Solicitor which has responded (albeit late) to the questions directed to the Finance Department as part of the internal review.

While he has sought to explain the sharing of data and identifying of sickness and disability related benefits I would suggest that his colleagues are choosing to be deliberately avoidant of giving a fully informed response.

I was not asking if an individual's particular health condition was indicated on the benefits data- I chose to specify what data would indicate disability or serious ill health within the household- including premiums. I dont expect the borough solicitor to undesrtand the complexities of the benefit system but a I can tell him categorically that there is no way that any competent housing adviser working within this PARTICULAR home visiting role would not know what receipt of certain benefits/premiums mean .

The fact that I had to request an internal review to get them to even admit to some of the contentions indicates the reluctance for Camden to admit they know these households are vulnerable in relation to disability. For eg the highest represented group in receipt of ESA are those with Mental Health conditions. In the ESA support group (those who are considered extremly unwell and at high risk) - clearly identified in the data you refer to - over 60% of receipients have mental health conditions.

So to have this information linked with a named tenant and then not to consider how this team's approach should take in to consideration the impact of cold calling and perceived pressure to move/take in a lodger is perverse and unsafe . And as pointed out before there has not been a single reasonable adjustment for disability made in approaching the needs of this tenant group.

It is noticable that Questions Q4,9,11 and 12 have still not been responded to as agreed as part of the internal review request. 6 weeks after the it was made and several further weeks after the original FOI request.

It may not be important to Camden Council that cold calling vulnerable tenants and advising them inappropriately causes significant distress but it does to tenants in Camden, carers, health services and the emergency services that have to pick up the pieces when someone cannot cope with being told to get out of their home ( and that is how it is percieved like it or not).

3 people have attempted suicide in the last 2 months in this area of Camden alone and all were linked to the bedroom tax. It is appalling that Camden choose to ignore the questions relating to duty of care when you know this is happening. Until there is a fully accountable response to the unanswered questions listed above then Camden leave themselves open to accusations that you knew there was a problem and where and how it could be alleviated and yet did nothing. Absolutely nothing thus far

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Matthew Syed left an annotation ()

Personally I am far from convinced that a team with this function would have any idea of the requirements of the Equality Act or an understanding of a Duty of Care.And very worringly they do not appear to have any experience of working with vulnerable tenants with mental health issues. It really is a recipe for disaster.

It would be really helpful at this point if the service managers would provide more information on how the quality of contact and follow up is being monitored and evaluated.My concern is that no one appears to have considered the level of support some tenants will need and the serious potential for the negative impact on their mental health.

The public will find it difficult to understand that teams within the same directorate (Housing and Adult Social Care) do not communicate- especially as the borough solicitor has now indicated in his response above that in his legal opinion data sharing is legitimate across departments

Warby, Michael, Camden Borough Council

Dear Ms Mosley,

I am afraid that I no longer work for Camden Council in the capacity of a Freedom of Information or Data Protection officer. As a consequence I have copied in this correspondence to the Access to Records Officer (Peter Williams) who informed you of the internal review decision on behalf of the London Borough of Camden. He will take the appropriate action in line with your e-mail of 27th October 2013 (below).

Kind regards

Michael Warby
Senior Education & Enforcement Officer

Telephone: 0207 974 4444

show quoted sections

Dye, Jackie, Camden Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Moriarty

 

 

Please find attached our response to the questions that were not
considered under the internal review process.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Jackie Dye
Special Projects Officer (Welfare Reform)

Telephone:   020 7974 2120
Web:             [1]camden.gov.uk

This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e- mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.camden.gov.uk/

christina moriarty

Dear Jackie Dye,

Thank you for your response.

However the reponse seems to deny that there are any problems whatsoever with the Home Visiting Scheme whatever the reports otherwise.To be perfectly frank it reads as rather arrogant and dismissive. Such a perfectly run scheme apparently.Unless you are the tenant concerned.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FOI REQUEST AROSE DIRECTLY FROM COMMUNITY REPORTS OF ACTUAL INCIDENTS AS REPORTED BY INDIVIDUALS,CARERS AND SUPPORTERS, ADVOCATES AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. The notion that if you haven't personally recieved complaints there aren't any is peverse. And shows a complete lack of insight in to the vulnerability of the tenants I have referred to.

It is also noted that there has still not been any reference to those with severe mental health needs and the impact of cold calling and 'advice' given. And absolutely no reference to the requirement for reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.

You state that 'no complaints have been received from any tenants contacted during the
programme' and 'only 8 tenants have said that they do not wish to engage'.

Are you seriously going to contend that a vulnerable tenant highly distressed with serious mental health problems is going to complain to the very same team they consider to be harrassing them? Actually multiple tenants have complained about being contacted by telephone and many have been left distressed after a visit.

Have you considered why your team has not received any direct complaints? Didn't it occur to you that this was strange given the level of distress the policy causes? Did you give details of the complaints process in an accessible form when telephone contact was made and in follow up visits? I suggest you read the NHS Complaints Review printed yesterday if you want to learn why vulnerable people dont complain to the authority that controls aspects of their lives in such a powerful way.

You name a couple of organisations who you 'consulted' with - neither of whose user group is those with severe mental health problems. By not discussing the impact with groups and organisations and health profesionals representing the tenant group referred to it simply reinforces that your team has not considered the level of distress caused and the SPECIFIC needs of this group.

The Borough Solicitor has referred to the benefits data which at first your team apparently denied they had access to ( see thread). You will be fully aware that the data the team receives will indicate disability and seriousness of ill health and should have therefore prompted further checks. Your responses indicate that the team did not routinely check for vulnerability on Northgate or with the teams sitting on the same floor when this happened.And there are certainly incidents where safeguarding alerts are on the system and have been ignored. 1 day safeguarding training without practice to back it up is worthless as we all know.

There have been several incidents of tenants attempting suicide linked with the bedroom tax following unsolicited contact by this team. They are very real and there is a direct causal link.It is beyond the understanding of people that you claim that there are not problems with your approach when this happens. It is incredibly insensitive of you to claim that tenants are appreciative of your contact when it has caused so much distress. Especially as you have not done any independent research in to the impact.

The tone of the responses from your team has been dismissive. Which is in line with the treatment of extremely vulnerable people with severe mental health problems. So we can assume it is an internal culture problem within Camden.

Thank God this team is being disabanded.

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Veronica Epstein left an annotation ()

It is totally untrue to state that tenants and their representatives have not complained. Both I and my neighbour's support worker complained about the visit I referred to in the annotation above. The visit precipitated a severe mental breakdown and hospitalisation. The trauma of the contact and the threat she felt is noted in her hospital notes as a trigger for this breakdown. Like I ststed before this is a person that Camden already supports so they should have checked the situation. The visiting worker was advised in the visit.

It makes me and others very angry when statements like this are made by managers when it is simply untrue. My own GP told me that she had personally seen several people in mental distress following contact with this team.

It seems that the Camden respondent to the request is angry that the actions have been challenged and the tone is very defensive. She should be more angry that her staff did not act with a 'duty of care' or that they were told to ignore the impact they were having.

Matthew Syed left an annotation ()

A train wreck of a response to a train wreck of a policy approach!

As stated we all know of cases where vulnerable tenants have been left terrified that they are about to lose their homes and where visits have been arranged without reference to the support the tenant needs .

There is not a single case I am aware of ( out of 31 referred to me }that the tenant was asked if they needed an advocate or support worker present at the visit. Every one of these tenants has severe enduring mental health problems that requires ongoing support. Many get support from Camden already.Every single one of them had expressed concern and were distressed following contact.

In disability law terms Camden may well be liable for the distress caused but they also know that this extremely vulnerable group are the least likely to take action on that front. Presumably this is why throughout this request they have completely ignored the issue of how they considered specific disability need.

I can't help wonder if the manager who responded to this did do through gritted teeth !They certainly don't seem to embrace the idea of accountability and transparency!

Dye, Jackie, Camden Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Moriarty

 

 

Please find attached our response to your recent correspondence.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Jackie Dye
Special Projects Officer (Welfare Reform)

Telephone:   020 7974 2120
Web:             [1]camden.gov.uk

 

This e-mail may contain information which is confidential, legally
privileged and/or copyright protected. This e- mail is intended for the
addressee only. If you receive this in error, please contact the sender
and delete the material from your computer.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.camden.gov.uk/

christina moriarty

Dear Jackie Dye,

You really dont get this do you?

Why - when in many cases you already knew tenants were vulnerable - can you not fathom how what you do impacts on people? You appear to have no idea whatsoever about mental health needs and admit to no training at all in this area. Your demands for personal and highly sensitive information - totally ignoring the risk and confidentiality breaches this involves - ilustrates this.

Have you ever tried complaining? Do you really think that when someone's mental health is so precarious and has deteriorated that the primary concern is to write a complaint to Camden? Unbelievable.

Just to remind you: Camden Housing Department are part of the Housing and Social Care Directorate which includes Adult Social Care. Adult Social Care have joint working protocols with Camden and Islington Foundation Trust with regard to support for those with severe and enduring mental health needs including crisis needs. Your own directorate also have teams that support the very same people. Camden also provide an emergency mental health duty service. CAMDEN ALREADY HAS SYSTEMS IN PLACE BUT YOU DONT USE THEM

So now you think that in order to alleviate your team's discomfort that individual's confidentiality around their mental health risk should be given to you after the event? So you don't bother to check that they are known prior to contact but then - at the time of greatly increased risk - you want full details.

No one has the right to breach people's confidentiality in this way and that includes health profesionals and people in the community.Surely you know this?

Since your team are seen as the trigger in the cases I am aware of then it would be extremely unsafe to share this with you when the victims of these actions remain unwell. As stated it is NOT a priority. The three people I know of now see your team as dangerous to their mental health. Why would they want contact with you? Exactly what purpose does this serve? It is staggering that you think this is an acceptable demand. I strongly suggest you refer to the Borough Solicitor on this matter who has responded re Data Protection and confidentiality already.

These are not 'allegations' - they are very real incidents and have been reported in a number of ways to a number of people including Camden workers.These are people who have received emergency medical intervention.

It is not the job of people in extreme mental distress and their carers and support teams to manage Camden's services.Are you so isolated that you have no idea of what the community, health professionals, Social Workers and Support Workers and advice organisations have been syaing about the impact?

You got this wrong, you knew what you were doing and therefore you cannot now claim that you had no idea how threatening your actions have been percieved and the potential for real harm. Which for some people has been actualised.

You chose not to consider this group's specific needs, you chose not to have ANY mental health training and you chose not to actively consider the needs of tenants that Camden had already identified as being at risk.This is why harm was caused.

Finally you state that no one has complained but when the issue is raised by myself and you see it as a complaint you are so defensive that your response is blinkered and you become obstructive. Yet you think that very vulnerable individuals should also go through this experience? THIS ATTITUDE IS WHY PEOPLE DONT COMPLAIN.

You seem much more interested in blamimg people like me posting here for raising the issues then actually addressing the shortcomings. Do you think I ( and others who have added annotations) would really do so if this had not become such a serious issue. Tough that you have to answer to a FOI request. Our hearts bleed for you. Try experiencing the distress these tenants have experienced.

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Matthew Syed left an annotation ()

I cannot read Camden's response without posting as their tone continues to be hostile to the poster implying that these are unsubstantiated allegations.

Of the cases I am seeing - all with very severe current mental health conditions - it woud be fair to say that at the very least they have not been given sufficient information and at the worst have been put actively deterred from applying for Discretionary Hsg Payments (DHP).

Particularly concerning is that not once has the possibility that they are actually exempt as they have a carer been explored - even when there actually is an overnight carer. 4 tenants had already been assessed as exempt by Camden Housing Benefit prior to this team contacting them.

Jackie Dye talks about DHP yet they only referred 30 people. Less than 3%. DHP as Jackie Dye knows is DISCRETIONARY. There is no right of appeal. Tenants with severe mental distress often cannot access the support to make an application and if the Home Visiting Team have not referred than they are unlikely to succeed.

Camden Housing Benefit (as I am sure Jackie Dye will know)have told applicants who are exempt to provide the actual dates over the last year of when an overnight carer stayed! Those without serious mental health issues would not be able to do this. For those with it is an impossible hurdle. The average person does not keep note of dates when they don't know they need to.

The other reason to be concerned links up Jackie Dye's team and Housing Benefit decisions on DHP's directly.

Camden's own internal guidance is to prioritise those tenants who have agreed to downsize. If you havent then you are refused. It is the Home Visiting Team that hold the cards. Yet they are untrained in assessing the support someone with limited capacity or impaired mental health may need to make an informed choice. They appear to just tick boxes and if the tenant refuses or is undecided on the day of visit then they are considered unco-operaive/refusing. It is a coercive approach which relies on the person's vulnerability.

So now you have a scenario where a Home Visiting Scheme
who either know or should have known that a tenant is severely vulnerable cold call the same tenant to talk about moving home and follow up with a visit. They have no mental health training and do not ensure that the person has an advocate present at the meeting. They make little effort (by their own admission) to flag up their intention to visit to support teams. There is little discussion in the visit about DHP's let alone exemption and the tenant is left highly distressed without support.

These tenants have a reasonable expectation that Camden are aware of their situation and increased vulnerability because ( in ALL the case I am dealing with) they do. Tenants have a reasonable expectation that Camden will make the reasonable adjustments for their specific disability AND that the visiting workers and their managers will have some Mental Health training.

If I or my colleagues had seen these tenants prior to visit we would have advised that they had an advocate, that pre-visit information was sent prior and that the visit was minuted or recorded.

Really Jackie Dye should take out her anger on her Camden managers and colleagues who made a decision to carry out this project without the safeguards in place that are needed AND legally required. There has been enough concern raised between teams/deaprtments in Camden. Do these not count as complaints and concerns?

And as far as direct consequence for the tenants? All 31 of those I have now seen have had increased distress and deterioration of their mental health following contact. Very few have been able to apply successfully for DHP's despite being on the highest rate of sickness and disability benefit and ALL having formal care plans.

None of their (Camden based) support workers or Social Workers were informed prior or post visit. Several had contact in the year prior with Camden's own Tenant Support Scheme.

Post contact 9 have needed emergency clinical intevention and admission following suicidal behaviour. 3 of these have been 'sectioned'. All paperwork refers to the contact and belief they were losing their homes as the trigger.

Camden set up this scheme knowing that this group would be extremely vulnerable yet chose not to safeguard them.

How about you stop shooting the messenger?

christina moriarty

Dear Jackie Dye,

Suggest you read Matthew Syed's amnnotations plus the others if you need further evidence of the impact the actions have had.

When people complain as individuals through the Complaints procedure then it is buried. Read the report on NHS Complaints Review to see why vulnerable people become more vulnerable if they raise concerns. The same issues apply to Camden Council.

If you didn't know how what you were doing would impact on someone with severe mental distress then you should have. That simple

Yours sincerely,

christina moriarty

Marcia Keene left an annotation ()

I will write something aswell as this is wrong what Camden write.My sister was called several times on the phone by this team or a team whow were trying to get her to move house (it is impossible for anyone to know what camden teams do as there are so many of them). I and other family have to be withy her several nights a week and had told camden housing behefit this. They said no one would contact her again so we thought it was ok,

Then she was very disturbed as she had let someone in from Camden who had told her she would have to move (this is how she saw it).If they told her different she didnt hear this. There was no paperwork.The police had been called to her and called me.

We and her care team and community safety team have spent a lot of time trying to protect her from strangers at the door because she is so vulnerable. I know this is marked on her housing records as I have seen it at a care planning meeting.

I did ring to complain to housing benefit who said i couldn't complain on my sister's behalf and she would have to complain herself. Even though they had talked to me before. Her worker did check again and she is exempt from the bedroom tax so they should not have called her or come to her door and talk to her on her own.

To camden they think this is an admin error so doesnt matter. But it has undone months of close work to protect her as she is terrified again and refusing to let the right people in. She will probably have to go back in to hospital again to settle her.

So she is another person that has been made very ill after a visit and lots of people in camden knew and i rang up and they shouldn't have ever visited her in the first place.

I dont know if this team in camden is very incompetent or not telling the truth. I have not got time to make a complaint and i know the care team did say something.

When you ring Camden sometimes they talk to you sometimes they dont and they dont keep records or they lose them.Being a carer for someone with severe psychosis is very hard work and you made it worse and unsafe and should be sacked

Marion Affleck left an annotation ()

I too find this very concerning as Camden seem to think that what they have done is OK and that there has been no impact. Except they have closed their eyes and ears to the distress caused.

I really don't understand how they can claim it is too difficult to check their own records as it is the same department. How can people who have funded care packages from Camden or direct payments because of their mental health conditions not be flagged as vulnerable? How can the Rents service who follow up on the rent arrears that follow the bedroom tax know that a tenant is vulnerable but not the home visiting team? How can estate managers know this but not the home visiting team? What I understand from the official response is that there is only one housing database

I simply don't believe the explanations. I think they did not check because they did not care (until now when they think they may be held responsible or be asked to account).

And why? Because they know full well that this group are highly unlikely to be able to complain. It shows an incredible lack of mental health and capacity awareness. What did they learn on their safeguarding courses?

I too have had anecdotal reports of people and their carers left confused and very scared following contact and direct reports from mental health workers who support these tenants. It says something about the relationship between council and health workers if Camden council are now claiming they are not aware of these.

Like the person above I also telephoned the Benefits Service for someone whose housing benefit was cut and was left extremely anxious and who has an overnight carer. They said she would be exempt but she still got a visit. I don't know what was meant to happen but it is impossible for her to be able to appeal by herself or get advice without help. Just like other people have stated this is someone who had been assessed by Camden mental health workers for admission to hospital.

I think the Borough solicitor was stating that they can check across databases without this being a breach of data protection. I dont know if this is correct but if he is Camden's top lawyer and is stating this then hy couldn't this team check the social services database?

Martin Siguurdsen left an annotation ()

Wow! This is an example of how not to aggravate an already angry community. Did they really not know the strength and depth of feeling about this? Thank you to everyone circulating this link. Pandoras box for Camden. So much has been now generated from this one request - we should thank Camden Housing for providing the fuel for local activism in mental health ! Finally get some accountability from 'professionals'. Maybe they need a better PR dept!!

MadSadBad left an annotation ()

They just want mentally ill dead so they can take our homes away.I will die before i move you wont get me out alive from here there is nowhere to go. You are like the nhs abusers trying to kill the weak people and cover your tracks but you are found out now and we all know and we will all die first and this is in islington aswell you are the same .People dont be fooled they cover up and what they do kills people

christina moriarty

I am sorry but not surprised to hear the stories of people who have posted. It is why i raised it on a Public Site as in private there are so many accounts of Camden ignoring distress. And worryingly poorly advising tenants who may be entitled to DHP payments or even exempt.

To finish this I heard evidence very recently of one tenant who was exempted by Housing Benefit yet this team insisted in contacting her even though there was a note on her housing file to never telephone because of the distress previously caused.Again someone Camden supports and knows is vulnerable. They ignored this and telephoned her at a point of suicidal psychosis and high risk while she was alone and disorientated and within the hour she attempted to jump off a bridge. Fortunately the police reached her.The fall out was that she hospitalised, is terrified of contact with any official and wont use the phone that was her lifeline before.This one clumsy ill thought out and potentially negligent action almost cost her her life and still might do given how far she has been set back.

And to Jackie Dye or whoever is actually the overall manager - you already know these details but you also know that she will never be well enough to 'complain' in the way you think distressed tenants should.
So I guess she and her carers are right - she doesn't matter

Dr. Sarah Garvey left an annotation ()

It is an example how in times of cuts the most vulnerable are hardest hit. There are unfortunately more and more incidents where information that protects people is legitimately available to the authorities but they do not access this - even as we have seen within their own directorate and when the Boruogh Solicitor confirms they could have.

The Health and Social Care Bill going through parliament is meant to integrate services but difficult to see this happening when within Camden Council (for eg) the housing team and social services teams cannot even talk to each other.

This is one of several initiatives that has been aimed at people with disabilities and in particular with mental health problems. The local Trust has cut services to so many patients that it is in crisis. So the tenants who find themselves in the situations described have no support in coping with the stressors.