DWP letter to ESA claimants: No need to share your disability, illness or health information before or at the Health & Work Conversation

DWP has released a copy of the of invite letter it sends out to new claimants of Employment Support Allowance, inviting them to the mandatory Health and Work Conversation (HWC) Jobcentre appointment.

The letter confirms claimants are not required to share their disability, illness or health information during or prior to the Health and Work Conversation. This follows on from confirmation by the DWP that claimants are also not required to complete the HWC booklet or do the ‘My Values‘ exercise.

Unfortunately the letter sent to claimants does not explain who is exempt from attending the mandatory HWC appointment.

Note: An earlier copy of a similar HWC invite letter does not advise claimants what personal data they do not need to share. This new letter does not advise claimants they are not required to complete the HWC booklet or do the ‘My Values‘ exercise.

“You don’t have to talk about your disability, illness or health
condition during or prior to your health and work conversation if
you don’t want to.”

The letter also usefully says:

“You’re welcome to bring someone with you if you want to. The
person you bring should know and understand you and your
needs (for example, a relative, support worker or friend. They
must be 16 or over).”

More ominously the letter says:

“Your ESA payments may be reduced if you don’t go to this
work focused interview and you don’t have a good reason
.”

DWP comments on the HWC booklet and ‘my-values’ exercise:

“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

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