Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I have recently written letters, with requests for answers, to DWP Ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling, concerning the practices of Atos Healthcare. In response I received generic letters from 'The Correspondence Team' claiming Ministers are unable to respond due to the 'large volume' of mail they receive.

Could you please release to me the statistics on the amount of mail, both written and electronic, that the DWP have received that are connected with Atos Healthcare, ESA or the WCA?

Yours faithfully,
Gill Thorburn.

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct.

Should you also 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.


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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Thorburn

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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Gill Thorburn left an annotation ()

Apparently the volume of mail they have received enquiring about Atos, ESA and the WCA is so gigantic that it would take more than they are obliged to spend, ie one person working three and half days, to retrieve the information. That in itself answers my question.

Gill Thorburn left an annotation ()

The DWP is evidently overwhelmed by people complaining about Atos, the WCA and ESA, if it is too huge a task and if Ministers (and their staff) can not cope with their obligation to respond to citizen's complaints.

Mr Taylor left an annotation ()

We have a right to request information Gill, we also have a right to complain and to appeal against decisions taking by the DWP/Atos. The process of assessing ESA claims and the subsequent appeals is costing £150 million a year, when the estimation benefit fraud involved was £58 million, not to mention the cost of the resultant complaints and FOI requests etc.
All the more reason to continue.

P. Wilkinson left an annotation ()

If the info we request was publicly available in the first place, we would not need to make these requests, therefore the expense of FOI requests is of the DWP/Gov own doing. They should stop 'skating around issues' and do business upfront.

Calum McLean left an annotation ()

To avoid the £600/too busy brush off, try shortening the date range.

I just sent this revised FOI off to the DWP. Will let you know how it goes. Regards, Calum.


DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request
Department for Work and Pensions

Dear Sir/Madam,

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Could you please release to me the numerical statistic for the following:-

1] The amount of letters (Royal Mail variety) that the DWP have received connected with Atos Healthcare?

2] The amount of emails (internet variety) that the DWP have received connected with Atos Healthcare?


Monday 1st August 2011 to Friday 5th August 2011 inclusive of these the start and end dates ?

Thank you.

28th August 2011

Calum McLean left an annotation ()

27th September 2011

DWP refused on the grounds that they don't hold detailed information, and that it would cost over £600 to comply.

DWP highlight they have over 100,000 staff; in August 2011 received 1,900,000 items of post; has 22,000,000 pieces of correspondence per annum, and deals with 20,000,000 people each year.

Not much further forward with the DWP.

So much for open government and a presumption to help enquirors.



Gill Thorburn left an annotation ()

Oh well, Calum, good try anyway.
I'm getting the feeling that, for the DWP, these FOIs are becoming a little wearing. I don't suppose it will be that long before new legislation to 'prevent abuse of the FOI Act' comes into force. Too many people asking too many difficult questions. They didn't expect that.


Calum McLean left an annotation ()

Hi Gill,

Thanks for the post,

I agree with you. Though the MP David MacLean did TRY to have the FOI legislation made impotent and failed.....

He then had a dark cloud hand over his head once MP expenses were revealed and he was exposed as making a questionable packet on his second home without paying capital gains tax.

Ironically this ex-MP is now like many of us, suffering disability. Though I doubt he will be filling in any DWP ESA forms or attending and WCA interrogations any time soon.

Still Gill, we all need to takle heed of what you warn against about FOI being legislated against.

At any given moment, politicians and civil servants will sneak up to do anything they can to kill off or neuter Freedom of Information Acts.

As for the DWP, they have no option. They MUST respond to requests.

The key is to keep knocking at the door.....

In fairness to the DWP they answered (shockingly) to the previous month's request.

All I can say is that this WhatDoTheyKnow website is one of the BEST on the internet.

Kind regards,


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