Welfare to Work services contract auditing and consent

Ian Wolf 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,

Part 1 of Information request

The European Social Fund (ESF) funds a number Welfare to Work services and ESF requires Providers to
obtain consent from participants to retain copies of their personal data, such as Jobsearch records and activity, purely for the purposes of contract auditing of service provision, distinct from participant mandatory activity benefit conditionality. Please provide information you hold that confirms that when a participant does not consent or withdraws consent to retain this personal data, purely for contract auditing reasons, will not affect any entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance?

Part 2 of Information request

The DWP funds a number Welfare to Work services and DWP requires Providers to obtain consent from participants to retain copies of their personal data, such as Jobsearch records and activity, purely for the purposes of contract auditing of service provision, distinct from participant mandatory activity benefit conditionality. Please provide information you hold that confirms that when a participant does not consent or withdraws consent to
retain this personal data, purely for contract auditing reasons, will not affect any entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance?

Yours faithfully,
Ian Wolf

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. 

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do please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
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[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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Bret Tom O'Hawks left an annotation ()

I think an 'entitlement' does not necessarily mean a claim is payable; the claimant can be under a sanction of 100% of the amount and still have an 'entitlement'.

So, if a claimant fails to consent on Data Protection forms then this maybe viewed as 'failing to participate'. Then the claimant maybe sanctioned but the claimant will still have 'entitlement'. The claimant will still need to meet jobseeking conditions etc or further sanctions maybe given.

This is nasty, and after 1 October 2012 it just gets even worse.

Ian Wolf left an annotation ()

@ Bret Tom O'Hawks

Consent is being used in it's true Data Protection Act meaning. IE: Consent is a choice without any consequence/sanction, otherwise it is not an issues of consent.

"Please be aware that not signing this form will not affect your benefits or your access
to this programme. ”
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/11...

"If I am in receipt of any benefits, my entitlement to these benefits will not depend
on whether I choose to give consent or not. "
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/11...

Certainly an interesting opinion on 'entitlement', but do you suggest that not signing or consenting to the forms above still can mean a 100% benefit sanction?

Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

Further to the request below. My reference to entitlement also refers to benefit sanctions for non compliance for a reasonable mandatory activity the participant has been notified of.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Wolf

--
From: Ian Wolf

2 June 2012

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Part 1 of Information request

The European Social Fund (ESF) funds a number Welfare to Work
services and ESF requires Providers to
obtain consent from participants to retain copies of their personal
data, such as Jobsearch records and activity, purely for the
purposes of contract auditing of service provision, distinct from
participant mandatory activity benefit conditionality. Please
provide information you hold that confirms that when a participant
does not consent or withdraws consent to retain this personal data,
purely for contract auditing reasons, will not affect any
entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance?

Part 2 of Information request

The DWP funds a number Welfare to Work services and DWP requires
Providers to obtain consent from participants to retain copies of
their personal data, such as Jobsearch records and activity, purely
for the purposes of contract auditing of service provision,
distinct from participant mandatory activity benefit
conditionality. Please provide information you hold that confirms
that when a participant does not consent or withdraws consent to
retain this personal data, purely for contract auditing reasons,
will not affect any entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance?

Yours faithfully,
Ian Wolf

Link to this

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.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

show quoted sections

References

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

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

Our Ref: VTR2286

Dear Ian Wolf,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on 6
June 2012. You asked:

Part 1 of Information request

The European Social Fund (ESF) funds a number Welfare to Work services
and ESF requires Providers to obtain consent from participants to retain
copies of their personal data, such as Jobsearch records and activity,
purely for the purposes of contract auditing of service provision,
distinct from participant mandatory activity benefit conditionality.
Please provide information you hold that confirms that when a
participant does not consent or withdraws consent to retain this
personal data, purely for contract auditing reasons, will not affect any
entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance?

Part 2 of Information request

The DWP funds a number Welfare to Work services and DWP requires
Providers to obtain consent from participants to retain copies of their
personal data, such as Jobsearch records and activity, purely for the
purposes of contract auditing of service provision, distinct from
participant mandatory activity benefit conditionality. Please provide
information you hold that confirms that when a participant does not
consent or withdraws consent to retain this personal data, purely for
contract auditing reasons, will not affect any entitlement to Jobseekers
Allowance?

Giving consent to providers to collect personal information is voluntary
and a refusal to give consent or to withdraw an existing consent will
not in itself affect any benefit that the participant may be entitled to
however; section 3 of the Social Security Act 1998 allows the Department
for Work and Pensions (DWP) to share personal information anywhere
within DWP where there is a valid business reason to do so, without
customer consent.

When a provider is contracted to undertake part of DWP's business, they
in effect become part of DWP for that sole purpose. When collecting
information in the performance of their contracted functions, providers
are acting as data processor to the Department. The Department is the
information owner, and as such, is the lawful owner of the data. General
information regarding the Department's privacy policy and how we use and
protect your personal information can be found at
http://dwp.gov.uk/privacy-policy/#Inform....

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

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------

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review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by
writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H
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date of this letter.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may
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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.gov.uk

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Bret Tom O'Hawks left an annotation ()

@ Ian Wolf

Here's the wording from Seetec's 'Consent to Share Information' form:

"I understand that:

- If I am in receipt of any benefits, my entitlement to these benefits will not depend on whether I choose to give consent or not

- My placement on any programme with Seetec and any employment or future offer of employment will not depend on whether I choose to give consent or not

- I can withdraw my consent at any time by outlining my request in writing to Seetec

- My entitlement to claim full Benefit may be affected if I choose not to take part in the Work Programme

Signature....................................

Date............................................"

The last paragraph strongly suggests that entitlement remains but receipt of full benefit will not, if consent is not given.

My understanding of consent is:
“…any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes by which the data subject signifies his agreement to personal data relating to him being processed”,

and the lack of consent:

"Consent obtained under duress or on the basis of misleading information does not adequately satisfy the condition for processing.",
http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/...

A participant on the so-called Work Programme will be under duress, according to the Jobcentre Plus issued WP05 letter:

"You must complete any activities that Seetec tells you to do...If you fail to take part in the Work Programme...your Jobseeker's Allowance could stop for up to 26 weeks."

So, if a participant is under duress to consent then consent cannot be valid in law. However, if the participant does not consent then he may well be sanctioned 100% of payment and yet still retain entitlement.

This all raises the issue of fraud: the representation of a false document, knowing it to be false, for the purpose of a gain.

Ian Wolf left an annotation ()

@ Bret Tom O'Hawks

Put very simply, If consent is conditional it is not consent.

The consent form quoted is only to allow the DWP to verify job outcome claims of Providers and nothing more. Providers are suppose to have additional Data Protection Act Customer Declarations/Forms, to cover the collecting and process of personal data not covered by this particular consent form.

This:

"My entitlement to claim full Benefit may be affected if I choose not to take part in the Work Programme " as it is not part of the DWP consent template.

is an oddity. The DWP has instructed all Providers that this consent form "cannot be altered in any way because it contains the appropriate legal wording, can be found at Annex 1."
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/pg-chapter-5....
DWP Provider Guidance, Chapter 5 Evidencing/Validating Payments

The sentence:

"My entitlement to claim full Benefit may be affected if I choose not to take part in the Work Programme "

is not on this version of Seetec's consent form:
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/82827/res...

Bret Tom O'Hawks left an annotation ()

If you wish, I'd be happy to provide a scanned image of a copy of Seetec's form, that I mentioned above, with the 'odd' final paragraph.