Work Programme Requirements

Peter Vale made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

The request was partially successful.

From: Peter Vale

4 April 2012

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

According to the Work Programme Provider Guidance. While a Work
Programme Provider is contracted to provide and undertake part of
DWP’s business, they in effect become part of the DWP. And
therefore must comply with Data Protection legislation. Please
could you provide me with all information relating to this.

Q1) Does a Work Programme Provider need to have a JSA customers
fully informed consent & signed authority for the Provider and the
DWP to obtain, process or share a customers information with a
Third Party, such as a prospective employer, training provider or
for obtaining outcome-related payments from the DWP?

Q2) If a JSA customer has given a Work Programme Provider and the
DWP consent/authority to obtain, process or share information with
a Third Party. Can this consent be freely withdrawn under the Data
Protection Act without the threat of sanction or it affecting
entitlement to JSA benefits or placement on the Work Programme?

Q3) Is there any legal requirement for a JSA customer to take part
in a Work Programme Providers Job Brokerage Service or to supply
jobsearch evidence with a Provider?

Q4) Is it a legal requirement for a JSA customer to sign a Work
Programme Providers appointment Action/Employment Plan?

I look forward from hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

P. Vale

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

4 April 2012

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S. Martin left an annotation (11 April 2012)

Quote-marks Q1 - Work programme providers legally have to obtain your consent to share information, at induction into the WP you should have your rights explained. This would include asking for your consent, then getting you to sign the appropriate document.

Your rights are thus - You have a right to refuse to sign this document, and I have refused to sign mine, and legally they can do nothing because its YOUR personal information. They can do nothing about this, although I have seen and heard many cases where nefarious tactics are used to obtain this consent.

Q2 - You have the right to withdraw this consent at any time, particularly if your rights were not explained, or they duped you into signing. To do this I suggest doing it in writing and hand delivering it to them personally, get them to sign a pre-printed receipt confirming receipt.

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

1 May 2012

Our Ref: VTR 1526

Dear Peter Vale,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on 4
April 2012. In that request, you asked:

According to the Work Programme Provider Guidance. While a Work
Programme Provider is contracted to provide and undertake part of DWP's
business, they in effect become part of the DWP. And therefore must
comply with Data Protection legislation. Please could you provide me
with all information relating to this.

Q1) Does a Work Programme Provider need to have a JSA customers fully
informed consent & signed authority for the Provider and the DWP to
obtain, process or share a customers information with a Third Party,
such as a prospective employer, training provider or for obtaining
outcome-related payments from the DWP?

Q2) If a JSA customer has given a Work Programme Provider and the DWP
consent/authority to obtain, process or share information with a Third
Party. Can this consent be freely withdrawn under the Data Protection
Act without the threat of sanction or it affecting entitlement to JSA
benefits or placement on the Work Programme?

Q3) Is there any legal requirement for a JSA customer to take part in a
Work Programme Providers Job Brokerage Service or to supply jobsearch
evidence with a Provider?

Q4) Is it a legal requirement for a JSA customer to sign a Work
Programme Providers appointment Action/Employment Plan?

Question 1 and 2
As explained in the reply to your previous Freedom of Information
request (FOI 0785 & FOI 1120), Work Programme providers are contracted
to provide services on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions
(DWP), providers require access to personal information held by the
Department in order to undertake those services.

Section 3 of the Social Security Act 1998 allows the providers to access
and use the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) information 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 and DWP customers'
personal information can be shared with them without consent.

The provider is only allowed to use that personal information to fulfil
its contract with DWP. Any queries you have about the information that
your provider is holding about you, should be discussed with your
provider in the first instance.

As explain in FOI 0785 as part of the payment validation process for job
related outcomes providers are required to obtain customer consent to
allow DWP to contact their employers. A customer consent form has been
designed for this purpose and can be found at Annex 1 of Chapter 5 of
the Generic Provider Guide. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/pg-chapter-5....

This consent form has been designed to ensure that DWP is compliant with
DPA requirements for the purpose of contacting employers and cannot be
altered. This consent form will not entirely cover the responsibilities
of the provider. Therefore to comply with Data Protection legislation,
providers must have a customer declaration and ensure that this
declaration is included in the customer's induction pack which gives
authority for the provider to share customer information. The
declaration should be completed and signed by the customer and kept on
file by the provider.

We cannot say whether any particular set of circumstances would lead to
a sanction. Providers are able to raise sanction doubts, for example if
they do not consider that a person is available for work and actively
seeking work, but the ultimate decision to enforce a sanction sits with
Jobcentre Plus.

Individuals have the right to access support in the form of benefits,
including Jobseeker's Allowance, and in doing so individuals must accept
reasonable requirements associated with them, such as actively looking
for work. By necessity actively looking for work would involve
individuals providing their information to third parties in the form of
job applications and training to become work ready. Consideration will
be given to each individual case to assess what is a reasonable
requirement, however I can confirm that a person may withdraw their
consent at any time in the knowledge that if they are withdrawing from a
reasonable requirement they are in effect choosing not to meet the
conditions for continued receipt of benefit.

Question 3 and 4
As explained in the reply to your previous Freedom of Information
request (FOI 0785 & FOI 1120), the Department does not specify the type
of activities Work Programme participants should undertake. This gives
Work Programme provider the flexibility to design an innovative and
personalised approach to support each individual into sustained
employment. Providers will also decide whether an activity is mandatory
or not in appropriate cases. Although, claimants who volunteer to join
the Work Programme and whose participation remains on an entirely
voluntary basis cannot be mandated to undertake activity.

The Department is neither resourced nor required to enter into
correspondence that has become circular in nature. Unless any new issues
are raised I am sorry that we are unable to enter into any further
correspondence on this matter.

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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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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S. Martin left an annotation ( 7 May 2012)

Quote-marks Last paragraph of the answer to questions 1 and 2.

This is scaremongering tactics as it suggests that by not giving them consent to contact employers you have applied to, you are not actively looking for work.

THIS IS TOTAL RUBBISH AND SCAREMONGERING.

WP or Jobcentres have no legal basis for sanctioning you, or reporting you for sanction on the basis of not letting them check your applications. If Jobcentres have any doubt as to you not applying for work, they have to prove it with evidence, and without your consent to check, they have no evidence, and no basis for stopping benefits.

If they try, consult a specialist solicitor, many work for charities and supply them for free.

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www.consent.me.uk left an annotation (14 May 2012)

Quote-marks “You have requested that A4e would not share information about yourself with third parties. I can confirm that no information or data will be shared with anyone without your consent form with the exception of Job Centre Plus and DWP as per our contract.“
http://www.consent.me.uk/docs/signing.png

“…if a provider wanted to share your personal data with a non-contracted organisation [third party], that does require your consent. In these circumstances the provider will ask you to sign a consent form. Should you choose, you can refuse permission.”
http://www.consent.me.uk/youcanrefuse

+

Do I have to sign a Work Programme Agreement form?
Do I have to sign a Work Programme Action Plan (Employment Plan)?
http://www.consent.me.uk/wpsurvey/
http://www.consent.me.uk/signature/

Answers from A4E and the DWP

“…you do not need to sign the consent form, I can confirm to you that you do not need to sign it and you cannot be penalised for not signing it, hence no sanction doubt can be raised. You can refuse to sign the Employment Plan and Work Programme Agreement forms; again without any further consequences such as a sanction doubt being raised”

“Action planning is an important part of this and providers will discuss and seek agreement with participants about work-related activities that will offer best prospects of employment. While there is no requirement for this to be recorded in a signed action plan, Work Programme participants are required to undertake all that can be reasonably expected to give themselves best prospects of employment or moving towards work, and if not do risk a benefit sanction. ”

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