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Universal Support: £39 million for Citizens Advice

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

RE: Citizens Advice to provide support to Universal Credit claimants
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will fund Citizens Advice to provide Universal Support from April 2019, the government has announced.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/citiz...

Please provide a copy of the contract, agreement or service level agreement you have for your allocation of £39 million to Citizens Advice " to provide Universal Support from April 2019".

Which law and regulations can allow a prospective Universal Credit claimant to be mandated to attend a Universal Support appointment or 'course' of support?

Evaluation of the Universal Support delivered locally trials
"The Islington trial was the only case where claimants were mandated to attend a first
appointment with their personal budgeting or digital support provider.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

Yours faithfully,

Frank Zola

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

Citizens Advice made some suggestions to Glasgow City Council on 'financial and digital support inclusion' for UC. Their funding proposals amounted to approximately £250,000. Suggestions included:

" UC telephone support services to direct customers to the most suitable Financial and Digital Inclusion service in their local area."

"Develop online UC information and details of where support is available in the local area."

"Peer to Peer digital inclusion support will also be developed."

"Provide digital assistant post to deliver training to staff, volunteers and especially clients how to access UC."

"Purchase of mobile device such as a laptop or tablet that would provide additional flexibility on busy days when the fix terminals are being used."

"Additional support and capacity to increase the services provided and reach of services by creating a hub in Westmuir Street School where other partners will be co-located."

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

Information on co-located hubs can be found on page 85 of the document linked to in the request:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Zola,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 2nd
October.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

You say you need more time to consider 'commercial interests', before possible release of the information requested. Nothing would stop the DWP redacting some information from disclosure if appropriate.

I consider it is in the public interest to disclose, so as to understand the scope of the Universal Support grant agreement, as Citizens Advice has written https://www.parliament.uk/documents/comm... to the Work and Pensions Committee expressing concern about the limits of support for existing and prospective Universal Credit claimants.

Welfare Rights workers are also worried this Universal Support agreement raises "enduring questions about independence of voluntary organisations" and whether Universal Support would be mandatory, with benefit sanctions for claimants declining to attend or participate in DWP funded 'Support': https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/view... Especially as the Public Accounts Committee https://www.parliament.uk/business/commi... and the National Audit Office https://www.nao.org.uk/report/rolling-ou... suggest that UC is flawed in design and delivery.

"Universal credit: delivery causing unacceptable hardship
...
This report provides further damning evidence of a culture of indifference at DWP – a Department disturbingly adrift from the real-world problems of the people it is there to support.

The introduction of Universal Credit is causing unacceptable hardship and difficulties for many of the claimants it was designed to help. "
https://www.parliament.uk/business/commi...

Yours sincerely,

Frank Zola

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

When considering the Public interest, for full disclosure of the information requested, please also take into consideration the Work and Pensions Committee 18th Report on Universal Support (US), published today. This report highlights a public need to fully understand that Citizens Advice US provision will only
meet a "meagre" amount of support needs for claimants of Universal Credit, to quote:

"The gap between the Department’s original vision for Universal Support, and the meagre offer it now funds, is vast. The Department envisaged providing ongoing help Universal Credit’s most vulnerable claimants, ensuring they can make the most of the new benefit. In reality it offers a single session of Personal Budgeting and Digital Support, restricted to the first three months of a claim. The current service is almost solely focused on getting new claims up and running. The new contract with Citizens Advice will not substantially diverge from this approach. This may help the Department progress with the roll out, but it is likely to fall far short on helping Universal Credit achieve its wider objectives. In its current form, Universal Support is far from “universal”, and all too often offers only very limited support both budgeting and digital skills."
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm...

Yours faithfully,

Frank Zola

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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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
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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

3 Attachments

FoI 4970

Please see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request.
 

Yours sincerely
 
DWP Strategy FoI Team

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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 Support: £39 million for Citizens Advice'.

In your reply to FOI2018/4970 you say "Redactions at Annex 3, 4 and 6 are due to commercial interests/sensitivity". I consider these redactions should be removed, in the public interest, and an unredacted copy of Annex 3, 4 and 6 should be released. These grants are for £51 million and have not been subject to any open/public competitive commercial tender process. The 1973 legislation used to authorise these grants is more than 40 years old, which seems to facilitate a lack of full procurement transparency and accountability.

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,

Frank Zola

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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no-reply@dwp.ecase.co.uk on behalf of DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Zola,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 12th
November.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Frank Zola please sign in and let everyone know.

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