Using the 'To-do list' and 'A message to your work coach' section of the UC journal

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please note, this is not a repeat Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

In its reply to a FoI request, Ref: FoI 4528, which was in relation to whether or not it was a legal or mandatory requirement of Universal Credit that claimants use the Universal Credit journal to provide evidence of work search or evidence an up to date CV, the DWP stated that there is no specific information or legal requirements that compels all Universal Credit claimants to to use the journal.

Does the statement “there is no specific information or legal requirements that compels all Universal Credit claimants to to use the journal” also apply to claimants: (a) using the ‘To-do list’ section of the journal; and (b) using the ‘A message to my work coach’ section of the journal.

Please provide me with any specific information held by the DWP, including all guidance issued to work coaches, which states whether or not it is a legal requirement for claimants to use the journal in relation to (a) and (b), given that most claimants, including myself, already have their own person email address and mobile phone, which the DWP retain for contact purposes.

Yours faithfully,

Curtis Allan

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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 Curtis Allan,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 10th
July.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Mohammed Haque left an annotation ()

The DWP have not answered your request. They’ve dodged the bullet, as it were. None of the information provided gives a definitive answer. It's all 'may' or 'might'.

Chris Roberts left an annotation ()

“The information we hold that best explains / answers your question”

You don’t want information that ‘best explains / answers’. You want a straight answer. You should request an internal review or re-submit your request asking whether or not they have recorded information not something that ‘best explains / answers’ etc.

Curtis Allan left an annotation ()

I have made a second FoI request in relation to this request, this time specifically asking for recorded information held by the DWP. I have also made it clear that I do not want information, which the DWP believes best explains / answers my questions.

This is the URL for that request:

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

Frank Zola has also made a similar but more detailed FoI request:

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

Curtis Allan left an annotation ()

I will not be pursuing this, as Frank Zola got the answer I wanted in his FoI below:

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

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Universal Credit – Benefit sanctions: notifications to take specific actions and the UC Journal
https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2019/0...

Curtis Allan left an annotation ()

@Frank Zola

Does this mean that claimants can be forced to use the journal to provide evidence of their job search if it is included the To-Do's?

Diptak Patel left an annotation ()

According to this links below, claimants have to provide evidence of their work search but DWP cannot dictate how it is provided. That is to say, claimant don’t have to use journal to provide the evidence. Has the law been changed, I’m thinking.

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

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

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

#UniversalCredit: Your Work Search. A 'Coach' can require you to supply your evidence in a "particular way"? What about your CV?
https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2019/0...

Section 23 of the Welfare Reforms Act 2012, Chapter 2...does not compel this evidence to be supplied in a particular way, only that it must be supplied if and when requested. [ emphasis added ]
FOI reply 4528: 'UC job search evidence format' - 17th November 2017
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

“It is not a mandatory requirement for the claimant to provide the required work search evidence via their journal. The claimant must be able to provide written evidence of their work search.
It is not mandatory for the claimant to upload their CV onto the journal, the claimant must however be able to show a completed and up to date CV. ”
FOI reply 4201: ‘Using a netbook or digital screen device to provide evidence’ – 20th October 2017
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

"Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 1st October 2017. You asked:

Can work search evidence be provided via a claimants own Netbook or other digital device screen or as a printed paper copy – or is it a mandatory requirement that they use the Universal Credit journal to provide this evidence?

Can evidence of an up to date CV be provided via a claimants own Netbook or other digital device screen or as a printed paper copy – or is it a mandatory requirement that they use the Universal Credit journal to provide this evidence?

DWP Response

It is not a mandatory requirement for the claimant to provide the required work search evidence via their journal. The clamant must be able to provide written evidence of their work search.

It is not mandatory for the claimant to upload their CV onto the journal, the claimant must however be able to show a completed and up to date CV. "
20th October 2017
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

" Curtis Allan left an annotation ( 8 September 2019)

@Frank Zola

Does this mean that claimants can be forced to use the journal to provide evidence of their job search if it is included the To-Do's?"

@Curtis Allan

Where does it say in:
https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2019/0...

"claimants can be forced to use the journal to provide evidence of their job search if it is included the To-Do's?"

Taking account of:

"DWP has been clear that there is no specific information or legal requirements that compels all Universal Credit claimants, in every case, to use the journal. However some claimants can have a requirement set, to provide information and evidence as part of their work-related
requirement for claiming Universal Credit. This requirement can be set by a Work coach under Section 23 of the Welfare Reforms Act 2012, Chapter 2 but it does not compel this evidence to be supplied in a particular way, only that it must be supplied if and when requested."
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

It is often best to provide screenshots of actual UC account requests and the associated UC Claimant Commitment (CC), to understood what is being requested and to understand the precise wording. Often a UC CC includes a work 'coach' and claimant have mutually agreed to use the Journal for work search records and updated CVs. However, a claimant did not need to agree to these Journal work search and CV CC activities and the claimant could have negotiated to show printed copies or show on their own digital device. In the event of a dispute over these issues a claimant might have to show a 'coach' the following FOI requests:

'Using the Journal' and "evidence" - [ Key words: "does not compel" ]
"This requirement can be set by a Work coach under Section 23 of the Welfare Reforms Act 2012, Chapter 2 but it does not compel this evidence to be supplied in a particular way, only that it must be supplied if and when requested."
17th November 2017
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

'Using a netbook or digital screen device to provide evidence' - [ Key word: "show" ]
"It is not a mandatory requirement for the claimant to provide the required work search
evidence via their journal. The clamant must be able to provide written evidence of their work
search.

It is not mandatory for the claimant to upload their CV onto the journal, the claimant must
however be able to show a completed and up to date CV. "
20th October 2017
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

The focus of 'Universal Credit - Benefit sanctions: notifications to take specific actions and the UC Journal'
https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2019/0...
is to highlight what procedures, guidance and active language a 'coach' or case manager should follow to ensure claimants are properly notified of a mandatory activity for the notification to be valid, taking account of the above FOI disclosures. So even if a 'coach' does follow the Journal formula:

Journal notification
- purpose of journal entry (I need xxx from you)
- action needed from claimant (you need to do xxx)
- timing
- consequences of the claimant not taking the action
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

It is silent on whether the 'action' is permissible in legislation, such as for evidence under Section 23 of the Welfare Reforms Act 2012, Chapter 2

Or taking account of:

JB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (UC): [2018] UKUT 360 (AAC)
"Universal credit – imposition of sanctions – notification of requirements"
https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeal... view online https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC...
and
R (Reilly) v SSWP [2014] AC 453; R (Reilly 2) v SSWP [2016] ECWA Civ 413
https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ...

Curtis Allan left an annotation ()

@Frank Zola

Thanks for all your input, Frank. You’re a star, and no mistaking!

I suspect that for those of us in the know, it’s going to be down to a battle of wills with our work coaches as to what will or will not be included in the CC. No doubt the coaches will bluff and bluster to bully claimants into using the journal for the aforementioned purposes saying that they have to, i.e. that it’s mandatory, and so on. And sadly, with some people they’ll get away with it.

Please keep up the good work.