@DWP says completion of Health and Work Conversation questionnaire booklet not mandatory…only ‘conversation’!

Plus “Many claimants do not see the Department and its work coaches as on their side”

Notice: If you are a prospective new ESA claimant it is suggested you do not act on the views below, without first seeking independent advice, support and solidarity. This is because the DWP is a dysfunctional organisation, engages in ‘conscious cruelty‘ and uses a secret penal system. Plus “many claimants do not see…[Jobcentre] work coaches as on their side”
One recommended source of advice & information is AskCPAG.

[1] Health and Work Conversation (HWC) questionnaire booklet must be completed?
[1.1] HWC Action Plan and 12 page operational instructions
[1.2] Claimants not required to attend a health and work conversation
[1.3] ] Failing to attend a HWC interview and circumstances another can be rebooked with reduced risk of a benefit sanction
[1.4] Contact made good cause [for failing to attend] not accepted, claimant not prepared to rebook, or second failure without good cause
[1.5] Unable to contact claimant by phone [who failed to attend HWC interview]
[1.6] “Flexible Menu of Support”: Including mandatory “community benefit” work placements (forced-labour workfare)
[1.7] Claimant fails to participate
[2] Critical comment and  analysis of the HWC
[3] Claimant views on HWC
[4] Copy of HWC FOI request and DWP response
[5] What’s the legal basis of the HWC?
[6] Is the HWC a crude gateway to coercive ‘treatment’ for new ESA claimants?
[7] Work and Health Programme (WHP): Who can be referred, for how long and when?
[7.1] WHP: Provider guidance, contract specification and tender information

Related:Health & Work Conversation: Behavioural Science tools & info disclosed that seek only “true” “appropriate” answers

[1] Health and Work Conversation (HWC) questionnaire booklet must be completed?

The DWP confirms that completion of it’s Health and Work Conversation (HWC) questionnaire booklet for new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claims and the associated ‘my values‘ exercise are not mandatory and no sanction will be applied, so long as claimant “participates and engages in the “mandatory Work Focused Interview“, which the DWP call a ‘conversation’ with a Work Coach, to quote:

“The HWC is a claimant led conversation so claimants can decide whether they want to discuss  their health. If claimants do not wish to discuss their health the work coach will tailor the discussions based on what they are comfortable discussing.

The My Values exercise is an optional exercise that claimants can complete during the HWC. The work coach will ask the claimant whether they want to complete the My Values Exercise. A sanction would not apply for not completing the My Values exercise.

Where a claimant doesn’t complete the HWC booklet but participates and engages in the conversation, a failure to participate sanction will not apply.”
Source: DWP FOI response (2302) – 20/6/7

Another DWP reply says:

“The Health and Work Conversation (HWC) is a mandatory Work Focused Interview and claimants are required to participate. Where a claimant doesn’t complete the HWC booklet but participates and engages in the conversation, a failure to participate sanction will not apply”
Source: DWP FOI response (2290) – 20/6/7

[1.1] HWC Action Plan and 12 page operational instructions 

  • 12 page HWC operational instructions. Some extracts:
    (disclosed 26/6/17)

“6. Any actions agreed at the HWC are voluntary. Claimants cannot be sanctioned if they do not undertake any agreed actions” [emphasis added]

DWP abbreviations
DART – Decision and Automated Referral Template
DMA – Decision Making and Appeals (including benefit sanction decisions)
FTA – Failure To Attend
FTP – Failure To Participate
H&W C – Health and Work Conversation
LM – Labour Market
LMS – Labour Market System
DWP: staff guide

[1.2] Claimants not required to attend a health and work conversation or can defer to a later date

– Exemption category
– Deferral category

– Exemption category

  • Terminal illness
  • Receiving treatment for cancer
  • Life threatening disease
  • Risk to self and others
  • Full time carers
  • Lone parents with a child under one
  • A parent who has recently adopted a child
  • Young people without parental support and in full-time non-advanced education or training
  • Pregnancy related issues
  • Claimants at/over Pension Credit age
  • Receiving certain treatments
  • In hospital or residential care
  • Prevented from working by law (Notifiable diseases)
  • Credits Only

– Deferral category

  • “Those who have an Appointee/Personal Acting Bodies or Corporate Acting Bodies
  • ESA Claims that are not currently in payment
  • Claimants that are the victim of domestic violence
  • Claimants recently bereaved
  • Claimants that have recently suffered from trauma (medical or otherwise)
  • Claimants that are temporarily absent for medical treatment”

[1.3]  Failing to attend a HWC interview and circumstances another can be rebooked with reduced risk of a benefit sanction

“28. If you make contact with the claimant and they are unable to provide good cause, [for failing to attend] but are prepared to attend a rebooked H&W C, no further DMA activity should be taken at this point.

29. There is no need to raise a [benefit entitlement or sanction] doubt, although the interview should have been marked as FTA.”

[1.4] Contact made good cause [for failing to attend] not accepted, claimant not prepared to rebook, or second failure without good cause

“34. If the claimant shows no good cause for not attending and is not prepared to
rebook:”
Step/Action  1
“Raise a doubt on LMS. This will send the FTA/FTP letter allow 7 working days for contact to be made by claimant”
Step/Action 2
“Complete DART stencil, detailing why good cause is not accepted”
Step/Action 3
“Refer completed DART stencil and ESA claim to LM DM to make sanction

decision”

 

[1.5] Unable to contact claimant by phone [who failed to attend HWC interview]

Step/Action 1
“Send in the post Failed To Attend letter and ESA10 to claimant; allow 7 working days for contact to be made by claimant Set a LMS workflow. ”

Step/Action 2
“If contact made and good cause accepted, see Contact made good cause accepted”

Step/Action 3
“If no contact is made, consider arranging a safe guard visit If after home visit, good cause is accepted, see Contact made good cause accepted If after home visit, good cause is not accepted, see Contact made good cause not accepted”

[1.6] “Flexible Menu of Support”: Including mandatory “community benefit work placements” (forced-labour workfare)

“In addition to localised support there are a number of national initiatives that they have access to for example:

  • Work Clubs
  • Working Together
  • Enterprise Clubs
  • Work Choice
  • Health Related Support
  • National Careers Service
  • Work Trials
  • Work experience and work placements for ESA claimants [workfare]
  • Permitted work
  • Volunteering and
  • Troubled Families
    list is not exhaustive”

[1.7] Claimant fails to participate
Steps the DWP will take when a claimant fails to participate:
Page 12
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/409233/response/997086/attach/3/2254%20HWC%20Operational%20Instructions.pdf (pdf)

[2] Critical comment and  analysis of the HWC

Go to Disabled People Against Cuts website for more in depth analysis and critical comments about the DWP’s Health and Work Conversation questionnaire booklet and the other ‘my values’ “behavioural science tool” exercise.

[3] Claimant views on HWC

Forum comments on the HWC:

[4] Copy of HWC FOI request and DWP response

– FOI request to DWP
– DWP reply

– FOI request to DWP

questionhttps://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/health_and_work_conversation_hwc#outgoing-654422

– DWP reply

Health and Work Conversation (HWC) interview with a Work Coach

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/health_and_work_conversation_hwc#incoming-994509

[5] What’s the legal basis of the HWC?

The HWC questionnaire booklet, ‘my-values’ exercise and the associated compulsory jobcentre ‘work focused interview’ asks claimants to disclose sensitive personal data and the Data Protection Act requires fully informed consent from claimants to allow the DWP to process it. When the DWP was asked to disclose the legal basis for using sensitive personal data in this was they claimed refused to say by claiming “legal professional privilege“, which shows the dubious legal basis of these “behavioural science tool[s]” (booklet and exercise).

When asked whether claimants are informed they do not need to disclose sensitive personal data on health and disability, as part of the HWC process they avoid answering the question directly and say:

“The Department continuously reviews its communications to ensure that it is clear to claimants that they are not required to share information related to their health and disability.”
Source: DWP FOI reply 2254 – 26/6/17

To show the utter contempt the DWP has for it’s processing of claimants sensitive personal data, when asked how they “record that it has a HWC claimant consent to process” the data, it just relies upon the now hackneyed reply:

“The information that you have requested is exempt under Section 42 of the Act as it is covered by legal professional privilege.”
Source: DWP FOI reply 2254 – 26/6/17

This is despite the Data Protection Act “conditions” that claimants must give “explicit consent” to the processing of the [sensitive] personal data”, which is also avoided by claimants not being told they are not required to complete the booklet or exercise.

In essence the DWP are subverting current legislation on compulsory jobcentre Work Focused Interviews, to superimpose health related questions and behavioural science tools without explaining the legal authority to do so. The benefit sanctions regime also leads claimants to be risk adverse in asserting their own rights.

[6] Is the HWC a crude gateway to coercive ‘treatment’ for new ESA claimants?

This question is underdevelopment. An update will be posted soon.

[7] Work and Health Programme: Who can be referred, for how long and when?

See: https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/work-and-health-programme-who-can-be-referred-for-how-long-and-when/

[7.1] WHP: Provider guidance, contract specification and tender information

See: https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/work-and-health-programme-all-provider-guidance-specifications-and-launch-info/

[7.2] Forced-labour workfare guaranteed for sick and disabled people

See: https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/forced-labour-workfare-guaranteed-for-sick-and-disabled-people-under-universal-credit/

“Work experience etc…
Section 55 amends section 13 of WRA 2007 to make clear that a claimant with limited capability for work may be required to undertake work experience or a work placement. Any requirement imposed under this provision will need to be reasonable in the claimant’s circumstances.” (emphasis added)
Source: Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Explanatory Notes

Updated: 26/6/2017

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