Universal Credit Programme - Project Assessment Review Reports

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

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The request was successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please disclose the project assessment review reports (“PARR”) produced in respect of the Universal Credit Programme (“UCP”) following reviews completed in:

- May 2012
- February 2013
- June 2013
- March 2014

If a project assessment review was carried on the UCP in 2015 please disclose the PARR produced following that review.

If the Department is prepared to disclose some of the information it should do so whilst citing the statutory exemption it is engaging for the remaining information.

Whilst First-Tier Tribunal decisions are not binding the Upper Tribunal has held that they should be considered persuasive. Therefore, the Department should consider the Tribunal’s decision in EA/2013/0149 (promulgated 14 March 2016) prior to making a decision on whether to disclosure or not.

If the Department claims s.36 FOIA in respect of this information it must:
• Obtain and document the opinion of a qualified person before claiming that s.36 is engaged.
• Carry out a contents based review (Upper Tribunal precedent requires this) for the requested information and explain why the specific information should be withheld. This means that the Department can’t rely on a “boilerplate” response covering the alleged harm that would or would be likely to follow disclosure and its consideration of the public interest test.

If the Department does engage s.36 FOIA please provide a copy of the submission placed before the qualified person and a copy of the qualified person’s decision.

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
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By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
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If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

You can expect a reply by 23 May 2016 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 Strategy 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

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 'Universal Credit Programme - Project Assessment Review Reports'.

S.10(1) FOIA states that the Department must comply with section 1(1) of the Act “…promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.”

This means that when it is not relying on a part II exemption and does hold the requested information, it will need to both issue the requester with written confirmation of this and provide the information promptly, and within 20 working days, in order to comply with its obligations under s.10(1).

If the Department is not relying upon a part II exemption and does not hold the information then its only requirement under s.10(1) will be to inform the requester of this in writing promptly and within 20 working days.

It also follows that a general response (such as a holding letter or acknowledgement) issued within 20 working days, but which fails to confirm or deny whether the information is held, or provide information, will not be sufficient to comply with the requirements of s.10(1).

Therefore as the Department has failed to provide a response no later than the twentieth working day following receipt it is now in breach of s.10(1).

It is common for the Department to justify its failure to comply with S.10(1) by citing s.10(3), the need for an extension to consider the public interest. This is a flawed argument as explained by the Commissioner in his published guidance:

“As section 10(3) only permits extensions for further consideration of the public interest, the additional time cannot be used to determine whether the exemptions themselves are engaged.
64. This means that the authority should have identified the relevant exemptions, and satisfied itself that they are applicable, within the initial 20 working day time limit.”

I look forward to the Department’s prompt and compliant response.

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,

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...
 

References

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

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

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. Please accept our apologies for the delay and see the attached letter.

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

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy 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

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

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please accept our apologies for the delay and see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
 

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

show quoted sections

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please accept our apologies for the delay and see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
 

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please accept our apologies for the delay and see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
 

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your response FoI 1618 dated 31 August 2016.

I confirm that I wish to see all the information held in the requested PARRs. I know that these are stand-alone documents and wish to see the information report each contains in its entirety (subject to the normal redaction of personal information below senior civil servant level)

In respect of the explanation for the delay in responding. Whilst I have sympathy with anyone trying to work within the limitations of Government Departments sadly the FOIA does not. The time limits to comply with requests were created by Parliament and the Information Commissioner and it is a matter for the Civil Service to comply with them. Furthermore the Department’s wish to consult and obtain agreement prior to disclosure is irrelevant under the FOIA. The information is held by the Department and it has 40 working days in which to disclose the information or cite 1 or more of the statutory exemptions it is claiming to engage. I remind the department of its legal requirements as stated previously should it wish to engage s.36.

I will pass the Department’s latest response to the Information Commissioner who is already investigating this request and several others where the Department has failed to comply with the FOIA.

Yours sincerely,

John Slater

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 'Universal Credit Programme - Project Assessment Review Reports'.

The Commissioner wrote to me saying the following:

"The Commissioner has written to the DWP and stated that it has 10 working days in which to issue its full response to you (i.e. not another section 10(3) notice). Should the DWP not do so the Commissioner shall proceed to a decision notice."

Should the DWP fail to comply with this instruction I will contact the Commissioner and ask that she issue a decision notice. The DWP attitude to requests for information over the last year has been woeful. An odd error is to be expected but there has clearly been a pattern of behaviour with the sole purpose of delaying requests and thus frustrating access to justice (i.e. the ICO and then Tribunals).

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,

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...
 

References

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

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

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 Strategy 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

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please accept our apologies for the delay and see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
 

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

John Slater left an annotation ()

The Commissioner is investigating my complaint about the DWP handling of this RFI. This includes the DWP sudden reliance on S.14 (1) to claim that my request is vexatious.

C Robinson left an annotation ()

How have you been vexatious?
Strange that.

A. Clerk (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The DWP are hiding something important it would appear.

John Slater left an annotation ()

You are quite right. If you take a look at the only UC PAR disclosed to date you will understand why why it is playing games like this. The link below takes you to an earlier RFI or mine. Click on the link in the last annotation and you will see an interesting piece my a journalist about the UC PAR.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please accept our apologies for the delay and see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
 

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

John Slater left an annotation ()

The Commissioner is still investigating this case. Unfortunately the DWP is dragging its feet and doesn't appear to be cooperating as much as it should be with the investigation.

John Slater left an annotation ()

The Commissioner has issued her Decision Notice today, ordering the DWP to disclose the PARs. It is also critical of the DWP handling of this case.

John Slater left an annotation ()

The solicitor acting for the DWP notified me this morning that the DWP is appealing the ICO decision notice in this case. Not really a surprise but given the age of the information (i.e. 2012 to 2015) that's disappointing.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Notwithstanding the outcome of the appeal and a staggering 18 elapsed months (so far) a highly commendable degree of persistence to hold DWP to account. What is it they say "if you have nothing to hide ................................ ?

Leigh Park Initiative left an annotation ()

Congratulations on triggering a parliamentary debate as a direct consequence of your FOI request. The DWP have just now decided to issue the PARs to the W&P Select Committee, which is a start.
The Committe Chair is seeking guidance as to the constitutional position
Of course, your own request for publication, as approved by the ICO, is still valid. I'm listening to the Opposition Day motion debate as I write (Tuesday 5th December 2017)

John Slater left an annotation ()

Hi Leigh Park Initiative,
Thanks for your congratulations but I can't claim any of the credit for it. It was a total surprise to me when I heard about the debate. As far as I know the oral hearing scheduled for next year will still go ahead and the DWP will attempt to prevent disclosure to the public.
John

John Slater left an annotation ()

The DWP withdrew its appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal yesterday and deposited the PARs in the House of Common Library. They can be found here:
https://www.parliament.uk/depositedpaper...

Ester McVey (Secretary of State) also published a statement about the disclosure that can be found here:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/public...

It's a shame that the DWP subjected the public purse to the expense of preparing for an oral hearing lasting at least 2 days only to change its mind at he last minute.

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