WCA Postponements – impact on ESA payments

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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 partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

For new ESA claimants a WCA will be arranged within 13 weeks, during which time the claimant will be paid the assessment rate.

If there is a delay beyond 13 weeks through no fault of the claimant, several Tribunal decisions have stated that DWP must pay at least the WRAG rate from week 14 until the WCA takes place and an initial assessment decision is made.

Please confirm this is the case and indicate where the process is recorded.

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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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 'WCA Postponements – impact on ESA payments'.

20 days and no feedback whatsoever.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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.

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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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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please find attached response to your Freedom of Information request dated
23 September.

<<3896-3688 Mr Newman Response.pdf>>

Thank you

Correspondence Team

Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | DWP
Contracted Customer Services Directorate | 306, Block 3 | North Fylde
Central Office | Norcross | FY5 3TA|  www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the
environment before printing

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Dear DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence,

Why did you refer this request to the WDTK administrator having already issued a response?

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

J Newman left an annotation ()

Very clear response. However there are reports of at least 3 first tier tribunal decisions that awarded WRAC rate from week 14 onwards if the WCA had not taken place, I believe on the basis that the claimant should not suffer as a result of Atos/DWP inefficiency and a subsequent backdated payment once the WCA has taken place is not good enough. It also appears DWP has stopped appealling these decisions, one can only assume out of fear that the Upper Tribunal will confirm them which would be yet another nail in the coffin.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find enclosed a response to your request for a review of
the information previously supplied under the Freedom of
Information Act by the Health and Disability Assessments
(Operations) Correspondence Team Freedom of Information
Internal Review Officer.

<<4030-IR703.pdf>>
Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessment (Operations) Team, Department
for Work and Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross
Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find enclosed a revised (as the other contained
grammatical and spelling mistake) response to your request for
a review of the information previously supplied  under the
Freedom of Information Act by the Health and Disability
Assessments (Operations) Correspondence Team Freedom of
Information Internal Review Officer.

<<4030-IR703.pdf>>
Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessment (Operations) Team, Department
for Work and Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross
Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA

Please consider the environment before printing

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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 'WCA Postponements – impact on ESA payments'.

Your 20 day calculation here is fundamentally wrong. The administrators of the WDTK website understand this and calculate overdue reminders correctly in accordance with FoI legislation, which in this case was issued on 19th October. The ICO itself has also confirmed their calculation is correct.

You received this request and acknowledged the receipt on 23rd Sept. The day of receipt itself DOES NOT NEED TO BE A WORKING DAY – this is clearly stated on the ICO website. Day 1 therefore was 24th September (the first working day after receipt)NOT 25th Sept and as the table below shows, day 20 is CoB 19th October. Your response WAS therefore late.

I strongly suggest you clarify this arithmetic with ICO as a matter of urgency.

0 Sun 23-Sep
1 Mon 24-Sep
2 Tue 25-Sep
3 Wed 26-Sep
4 Thu 27-Sep
5 Fri 28-Sep
Sat 29-Sep
Sun 30-Sep
6 Mon 01-Oct
7 Tue 02-Oct
8 Wed 03-Oct
9 Thu 04-Oct
10 Fri 05-Oct
Sat 06-Oct
Sun 07-Oct
11 Mon 08-Oct
12 Tue 09-Oct
13 Wed 10-Oct
14 Thu 11-Oct
15 Fri 12-Oct
Sat 13-Oct
Sun 14-Oct
16 Mon 15-Oct
17 Tue 16-Oct
18 Wed 17-Oct
19 Thu 18-Oct
20 Fri 19-Oct

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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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References

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find enclosed a response we apologise for the delay in providing
you with a response to your query.

<<Mr Newman Response.pdf>>
Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessment (Operations) Team, Department for Work and
Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA

Please consider the environment before printing

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Mr Newman

Please see attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Many Thanks

Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | Contracted Customer Services Directorate | DWP Operations | Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool FY5 3TA | www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the environment before printing

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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 'WCA Postponements – impact on ESA payments'.

You are categorically wrong. The day you receive a request is day 0 REGARDLESS of whether it is a working day or not. Day 1 is the first WORKING day.

The ICO’s own website at http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/... under the section ““What are the timescales for responding to a request for information?” states:

“Under the Act, most public authorities may take up to 20 working days to respond, counting the first working day after the request is received as the first day”

It DOES NOT say that the day of receipt also has to be a working day. It is quite disgraceful that DWP still does not understand FoIA legislation and persists insisting it is right when it is wrong evidently even at senior levels.

I have used an IRR as I would like a formal response that tells me that in fact DWP is right and the ICO itself is wrong.

Clearly one for the ICO.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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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References

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DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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J Newman left an annotation ()

It seems a very clear requirement on the ICO website is a matter of interpretation. The ICO itself will have to judge - already underway.

J Newman left an annotation ()

PS The classification is based on the original request, not the subsequent debate over 20 vs 21 days

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

That's the spirit, John. I'm looking forward to the outcome of your ref. to the ICO on the point in question.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Many congratulations on getting the ICO to rule succinctly and emphatically in your favour on this issue, John.

For 'passers-by', see:-

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

It always was a short point of basic legal\linguistic analysis, which I would expect the most junior of lawyers to be able work out within two-minutes - and frankly any vaguley literate pesron else, with the will, in little, if any, more. It is utterly disgraceful that a department of state should have wilfully, arriogantly and blatantly persisted in breach of the statutory provision for so long.

Don't suppose they have offered any king of apology behind the scenes...?

To emphasise the point now kicked out out of the DWP for anyone interested, if you email your FoI query to the DWP on a non-"working day", let us say a Saturday, then in the absnce of bank holidays, the 20 working day period (within which the DWP must produce their response) will expire at midnight on the 4th Friday following, not the Monday after that.

It may seem like a small point, but in the light of the fact that the DWP routinely and disgracefully breaches the 20 working day period by WEEKS, their claim that they were legally entitled to an entirely spurious extra day always was simply a case of one final step of too much goddarn, fatuous, obstructive ignorance and arrogance. I am delighted John has nailed them on the point.

Gives encouragement to us all, I feel.

J Newman left an annotation ()

A fuller picture of the 20 day debacle can be found here:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

I must stress this is not about scoring points against DWP - it is about promoting a philosophy that takes legal and moral responsibilities seriously.

John Slater left an annotation ()

This is an excellent example to highlight the approach that the DWP adopts to most things legal.

Many things that the DWP imposes on claimants are presented as Law when the truth of the matter is that is is invariably DWP policy or opinion.

If the DWP has no statutory backing for specific activities then legally it is only opinion or policy and this has no more weight in Law that a claimant's opinion or policy.

If a claimant decides they do not wish to comply with DWP policy/opinion then the DWP has a problem. It resolves this by threatening the claimant with the termination of their benefits and that understandably scares most people into complying. If someone has the means and the courage to take the DWP on then we get results like this one where the DWP is shown to be what it truly is.

Examples of DWP policy in operation are:

- WCA Recording conditions when Atos is recording.
- WCA Recording conditions when a claimant is recording.
- Demanding 'good cause' from a claimant when they insist on recording their WCA on there own terms.
- The use of LiMA in WCA (LiMA is not mentioned in any statute).
- The choice of the type of HCP to carry out a WCA (the Statute says a HCP will carry out WCA but is silent on the selection of a Doctor, Nurse, Physio etc. If you can show that it is reasonable that you select the type of HCP then the courts should back you)
- Only allowing a WCA to be postponed for a maximum of 4 weeks (there is nothing in Statute that says WCA cannot be postponed for longer than 4 weeks. If you can show it is reasonable then the DWP should agree).

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 'WCA Postponements – impact on ESA payments'.

Giving DWP the benefit of the doubt (it was not just trying to be mischievous and obstructive), the correct approach would have been to ask the ICO for clarification long ago. This is of course assumes that it wishes to set an example and comply fully with legislation which the Civil Service Code requires of all employees.

It did not – it was happy to take the risk that it was breaking the law, face-down any suggestion from the public that this was the case and brazen it out for as long as it could get away with it. It didn’t even check out its position in the background, so unconcerned was it that it might be breaking the law.

Clearly it was as the ICO has now confirmed, but what an appallingly arrogant attitude for a public body funded by taxpayers to take. At very least an apology for the error should be forthcoming and the assurance that in future any perceived ambiguity in legislation will be fully investigated before random, parochial decisions are made.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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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References

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DWP OPD COO FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Mr Newman,
 
Please see the attachment in response to your request received 9 April
2013:
 
 
Thank you
 
DWP Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 
 

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S. Martin left an annotation ()

John Slater:

Opinion carries less weight then a claim as the individual making an opinion is actually defined as interpretation in law and interpretation is classed as hearsay.
In law hearsay evidence is not admitted.

It has also been confirmed on this site that Decision Makers roles are to interpret legislation and give a decision, check your law and they aren't qualified to do this as they are not qualified.

Policy is just that, THEIR policies and not ours, we are not employees of the DWP so they don't apply.

It all comes down to consent and contract and anyone looking to challenge the DWP will find if they don't consent, and avoid their tricks to get you to consent. Or you hold them to the specific contract law then they are stuffed.

John Slater left an annotation ()

@ S. Martin,

I'm sure we have been through this type of "conversation" before. Hearsay evidence is admissible in the Tribunal system. As appeals against DWP decisions is via the Tribunal System then hearsay evidence is admissible. It is up to the Tribunal panel / Judge to decide what weight it gives to such evidence. If you don't believe me then read the rules that govern Tribunals.

Decision Makers are qualified to do their jobs as the law says they are.

DWP Policy ultimately comes down to a Tribunal deciding if they are reasonable or not. DWP policy will usually not have statutory backing which gives you two options. The first is to appeal a decision to the Tribunal or seek a Judicial Review.

It doesn't all come down to "consent" and "contract law" and you really should stop writing annotations like this in case vulnerable people follow your advice.