“Claimants not required to disclose sensitive personal data as part of” Health and Work Conversation. DWP Minister

Employment and Support Allowance: Data Protection: Written question – 71091


Q
Asked by Stephen Timms (East Ham) [N]  Asked on: 18 April 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance: Data Protection
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans he has to safeguard sensitive personal data potentially discussed in the proposed new health and work conversation for employment and support allowance claimants; and if he will make a statement.

 …

 A Answered by: Penny Mordaunt  Answered on: 24 April 2017

Claimants will not be required to disclose sensitive personal data as part of the (HWC). The paperwork from the HWC is taken away by the claimant at the end of the conversation. DWP staff will update records to show that the HWC has taken place, record any voluntary actions and any support offered by DWP.

The Department treats the protection of sensitive personal data extremely seriously and safeguards such data in compliance with the Data Protection Act and in accordance with Departmental security policies and standards;

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2017-04-18/71091/

Related:@DWP says completion of Health and Work Conversation questionnaire booklet not mandatory…only ‘conversation’!‘,Health & Work Conversation: Behavioural Science tools & info disclosed that seek only “true” “appropriate” answersand ‘Oxymoronic Catch-22 @DWP: New ‘Health & Work Conversation’ is both mandatory and ‘voluntary’…

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

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.

Content
[1] Claimant led?
[2] Genuine open and mutual ‘conversation’?
[3] Is the HWC/Work Focused Interview (WFI) mandatory?
[3.1] What is a WFI?
[3.2] What about the HWC Action Plan? Mandatory or Voluntary?
[4] Some more questions
[5] DWP’s Behavioural ‘Science’ tools and information disclosed
[5.1] HWC training documents for ‘Work Coaches’
[6] Behavioural ‘Science’, psychological coercion and pseudoscience
[7] DWP’s Behavioural ‘Science’ Team
[8] DWP HWC presentation slides
[9] Views from disabled activists and Disabled People’s Organisations
[9.1] DWP’s list of Charities and Disabled Persons User Led Organisations consulted
[10] Work as a health outcome?
[11] HWC & the draft Employment and Support Allowance (Claimant Commitment) Regulations 2016
[11.1] The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013

[1] Claimant led?

Today the DWP has released more details of how Behavioural ‘Science’, underpins it’s Health & Work Conversation (HWC), for new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claims. The internal documents and training material from the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) [AKA Nudge Unit] and DWP make a mockery of the idea that this ‘Conversation’ is in anyway “claimant led”.

[2] Genuine open and mutual ‘conversation’?

How can anyone engage in any genuine open and mutual ‘conversation’ at a Jobcentre when it’s Work ‘Coaches’ are trained to use a contrived “script” and seek “true” and “appropriate” answers and understand and inculcate ‘Growth and Positive mindsets’? Then there is the fact that the ‘conversation’ appointment at the Jobcentre is mandatory, for sick and disabled people making a new claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), with benefits sanctions for failure to participate in or attend the ‘conversation’.

What could possibly be achieved when the time allocated for a face to face Jobcentre Work ‘Coach’ ‘conversation’ is 40 minutes?

“The DWP’s [HWC] plans have been described by disabled activists as “DWP skulduggery”, “pernicious”, “oppressive”, “punitive”, and “abusive”.”
Source: Disability News Network – ‘Boycott call after DWP wrongly claims DPOs helped devise punitive work scheme ‘ 4/5/17

[3] Is the HWC/Work Focused Interview mandatory?

As part of the HWC claimants are sent a questionnaire booklet and ‘my-values’ exercise, to be completed before they attend, or during, a HWC appointment at the Jobcentre with a Work ‘Coach’. What is highly deceitful is that the DWP does not inform claimants they are not required to complete the booklet or do the ‘my-values’ exercise.

optional

The Child Poverty Action Group say attending the face-to-face Jobcentre Work ‘Coach’ HWC is however mandatory and carried out under existing work-focused interview (WFI) rules in Reg 54 Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008, No.794.

However to quote page one of the booklet, it says:

“Do you need to take part in the health and work conversation?
Yes. The health and work conversation is part of your claim to ESA.
Your ESA payments could be reduced [sanctioned] if you don’t take part in your conversation” (original emphasis)

Whereas when the DWP was asked to clarify it stated:

“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

Therefore it is mandatory to attend the HWC/WFI Jobcentre appointment, the ‘My Values‘ exercise is “optional” and “Where a claimant doesn’t complete the HWC booklet but participates and engages (See [3.1] below and RFI1) in the conversation, a failure to participate sanction will not apply.” To reiterate, this is another version of what the DWP says on the booklet:

“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

The conundrum(s) created here are through the DWP’s view that the HWC/WFI is “claimant led” and also saying “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”, which seems to be at variance to what the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 say a WFI actually is? [See [3.1] below]

Then there is the DWP Minister’s view that claimants are “not required to disclose sensitive personal data as part of” a Health and Work Conversation. Although no sanction applies for not completing the booklet and the ‘My Values’ exercise is “optional”, how can claimants be expected to know precisely what they must disclose at the face-to-face Jobcentre HWCWFI, to show they are engaging and participating without risk of a sanction? Let alone challenge the DWP’s use of Behavioural ‘Science’ (BS) tools and Work ‘Coach’ inculcation of BS ‘Growth and Positive mindsets’?

All of these contradictions may lie in the fact that the design of  HWCs/WFI for new ESA claims was piloted as entirely voluntary and now made mandatory means the legal basis is unclear. The DWP may seek to partially resolve matters with the draft Employment and Support Allowance (Claimant Commitment) Regulations 2016 (See item [11] below). In the meantime this mess is likely to leave ‘vulnerable’ new ESA claimants at significant risk of unlawful sanctions.

Related: “Claimants not required to disclose sensitive personal data as part of” Health and Work Conversation. DWP Minister @DWP says completion of Health and Work Conversation questionnaire booklet not mandatory…only ‘conversation’! and ‘Oxymoronic Catch-22 @DWP: New ‘Health & Work Conversation’ is both mandatory and ‘voluntary’…

[3.1] What is a Work Focused Interview (WFI)?

“Regulation 57 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 sets out when a claimant is to be regarded as having taken part in a Work Focused Interview.
The HWC is a Work Focused Interview.
Please see Regulation 57 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 below:
57.—(1) A claimant is regarded as having taken part in a work-focused interview if the
claimant—
(a) attends for the interview at the place and at the date and time notified in accordance with regulation 56;
(b) provides information, if requested by the Secretary of State, about any or all of the
matters set out in paragraph (2);
(c) participates in discussions to the extent the Secretary of State considers necessary, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (3);
(d) assists the Secretary of State in the completion of an action plan.

(2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(b) are—
(a) the claimant’s educational qualifications and vocational training;
(b) the claimant’s work history;
(c) the claimant’s aspirations for future work;
(d) the claimant’s skills that are relevant to work;
(e) the claimant’s work-related abilities;
(f) the claimant’s caring or childcare responsibilities; and
(g) any paid or unpaid work that the claimant is undertaking.

(3) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(c) are—
(a) any activity the claimant is willing to undertake which may make obtaining or remaining in work more likely;
(b) any such activity that the claimant may have previously undertaken;
(c) any progress the claimant may have made towards remaining in or obtaining work;
(d) any work-focused health-related assessment the claimant may have taken part in; and
(e) the claimant’s opinion as to the extent to which the ability to remain in or obtain work is restricted by the claimant’s physical or mental condition. ”
Source: DWP FOI reply (1341) – 2/5/17

Queries on HWC and WFI have been submitted via FOI requests, highlighted here.

[3.2] What about the HWC Action Plan? Mandatory or Voluntary?

As part of the HWC an Action Plan is drawn up at the mandated face-to-face Jobcentre appointment, which can cover voluntary, work and health related goals/activities whilst a new ESA claimant is in the “assessment phase“. Whilst the DWP says all activities in the plan are voluntary, there is also a strong possibility that they and additional activity/conditions may/will become mandatory when a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) “main phase” places the ESA claimant in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). The current HWC Action Plan seems to be a stop gap whilst a new ESA specific Claimant Commitment (CC) is “in development” with new “regulations” due this summer* [see item 11 below] and or the DWP only plan to use an ESA CC after a WCA determination has been made placing the claimant in the WRAG category?

Reg 58 of the The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 defines an Action Plan as:

58.—(1) An action plan is a document that is completed by the Secretary of State and contains—

(a) a record of a work-focused interview;

(b) a record of any activity that the claimant is willing to take which may make obtaining or remaining in work more likely or which may make it more likely that the claimant will be able to do so;

(c) any other information that the Secretary of State considers to be appropriate.

(2) An action plan must be in writing.

(3) The Secretary of State must provide a claimant who attends a work-focused interview with an action plan.

“After the My 4 Steps the claimant and the work coach will put together an action plan. These are actions that the claimant agrees to do and are voluntary before their WCA” (emphasis added)
Source: DWP FOI reply (2254)

lmsactionplan.png

*The snap general election and the short queen’s speech may mean no new HWC or CC regulations will be introduced for two years.

[4] Some more questions

“RFI 2: Do you provide any information to claimants that they are not required to disclose sensitive personal data, concerning their health and disability, at or prior to the HWC? Please provide copies of such a notice or information.

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) – 26/06/17

[5] DWP’s Behavioural ‘Science’ tools and information disclosed

Questionnaire booklet

‘My Values’ exercise

HWC Operational Instructions
(See extracts and comments)

Health and Work Conversation Booklet WORK COACH VERSION

A 60 minute e-learning session for Work Coaches
“The aim of this e-learning session is to give you an overview of
the Health and Work Conversation (HWC) as well as to introduce
you to two important tools that will help you deliver it: growth
mindsets and My Values.

This e-learning session is therefore broken into 3 modules:
1. Policy context and overview of the HWC
2. Growth mindsets
3. My Values”

Work Coach Reference Guide for the Health & Work Conversation
“This document brings together the different elements
of the Health & Work Conversation (HWC)
and summarises how they fit together, what their
purpose is, and how to do them. It also covers the
evidence behind these elements and the benefits
associated with them. ”

My 4 Steps template
“Fill in this section of the booklet with your work coach. Look at what you want to do and how you can do it”

Health and Work Conversation Handout 05.02 – Drilling Down for My 4 Steps

[5.1] HWC training documents for ‘Work Coaches’

Training introductions

About Me

Action Plan

My 4 Steps

My Values

Related DWP FOI reply (2312) – 12/7/17

[6] Behavioural ‘Science’, psychological coercion and pseudoscience

For ground breaking analysis on the DWP’s use of Behavioural ‘Science’ and psychological coercion, check out:

Whistle While You Work (For Nothing): Positive Affect as Coercive Strategy – The Case of Workfare
“There has been little or no debate about the recruitment of psychology/psychologists into monitoring,  modifying and/or punishing  people who claim social security benefits.”

“The conversation was co-designed by the DWP with BIT, health and disabled people’s charities, and front line staff. It draws on an extensive body of behavioural research undertaken by Professor Gabriele Oettingen and others at New York University
Source: DWP FOI reply (4157) “Health and Work Conversation” – 30/11/16

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) “has been centrally involved in designing the Health and Work Conversation based on evidence from behavioural science, as well as user-testing with both claimants and work coaches. The intervention draws on three particular strands of behavioural science research.

The first technique is a combination of ‘mental contrasting’, developed by Professor
Gabriele Oettingen (who is working with BIT to implement the changes) and
implementation intentions’, which draws on the work of Professor Peter Gollwitzer.
Studies have shown that encouraging an individual to think about their goals or wishes and then mentally contrasting these with the obstacles that might get in their way, can help people to achieve their goals more effectively. These interventions work by encouraging people to actively plan how, where and when they will then take specific actions.

The second strand concerns ‘self-affirmation’, which focuses on building the resilience
of claimants by getting them to reflect on their personal values… (“The second intervention was an online Values Affirmation (VA) exercise, which we developed with Professor Geoffrey Cohen and his team at Stanford” page 21.)

The third strand draws on Professor Carol Dweck’s work on ‘growth mindsets’ (as opposed to ‘fixed mindsets’), in which coaches and claimants are encouraged to think about how they can learn and develop new skills”
Source: Page 45 – The Behavioural Insights Team – Update Report 2015-16 (pdf)

 

[7] DWP’s Behavioural ‘Science’ Team

Headed by Carla Groom. Twitter: @carla_groom & linkedin
dwp bs team

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/behavioural_science#incoming-994607

[8] DWP HWC presentation slides

Download a copy of the DWP 11 page HWC presentation slides (.ppt file). Source: rightsnet.org.uk forum ‘health and work conversation’ 13/3/17

hwcslides.png

[9] Views from disabled activists and Disabled People’s Organisations

Disability News Network articles on the HWC.

Boycott call after DWP wrongly claims DPOs helped devise punitive work scheme – 4/5/17

DWP presentation on ESA plans ‘confirms worst fears’ about green paper – 30/3/17

You can also search online for background information and submissions to the consultation: on the ‘Work, health and disability green paper: improving lives’, that include comments on the HWC.

Arthritis Care
“We are concerned that the Health and Work Conversation will be mandatory, as this could be very stressful for people who are extremely unwell and not in a position to think about returning to work, and undermines trust in the benefits system. Participating in this conversation should be voluntary, particularly for people placed in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Support Group.”

BABCP/BPC/BPS/UKCP
This new approach must be underpinned by appropriate specialist advice and be
developed in consultation with relevant disabled and mental health organisations.

Moreover, as stated previously, we strongly recommend that any changes the Government makes to the tools and specialist support given to work coaches
should be trialled before roll out, and the impact of these changes on mental health and wellbeing should be monitored. The changes should not only be trialled individually, but also as a package, as the impact of changes may be cumulative” (original emphasis)

Disability Agenda Scotland
“DAS does not agree that the proposed ‘Health and Work Conversation’ is an appropriate form of personalised support for Work Coaches to help disabled people return to work. We are concerned at the mandatory nature of the proposals and their timing immediately following an application for ESA. ”

Shaw Trust
“The Health and Work Conversation (HWC) should be voluntary to best enable disabled people to move into employment.”

[9.1] DWP’s list of Charities and Disabled Persons User Led Organisations consulted

“The list below sets out the Charities and Disabled Persons User Led Organisations that were consulted during the development of the Health and Work Conversation:
– Action on Disability and Work
– Breakthrough UK
– Citizens Advice Bureau
– Disability Action Alliance
– Disability Dynamics
– Disability Rights UK
– Evenbreak
– Leonard Cheshire
– Macmillan
– Mencap
– MIND
– The National Autistic Society
– Reform
– Remploy
– Rethink
– Royal National Institute of Blind People
– Scope
– Shaw Trust
– Turning Point
– Wavelength
– WhizzKidz”
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/374815/response/914993/attach/html/3/4576.pdf.html

[10] Work as a health outcome?

The ideology that underpins the HWC is a drive to impose a far reaching view that work can be a health outcome, which is one of the main goals of the DWP. If this does get wider recognition it potentially opens the gateway for the DWP and Department of Health to work jointly and crucially enable joint processing/sharing of personal data on benefit claimants health and disability and benefit claims, with far lesser regard to fully informed explicit consent. Although stronger rules on consent and data sharing, in the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, may stymie this DWP objective.

However, it’s worth thinking about how joint work-and-health schemes across NHS, DWP and Local Authorities is already operating, like the ‘Healthy Work Conversations: Up streaming Work for Health‘ and via devolution in Greater Manchester and London.

“Work is a determinant of health and as such is a public health priority.”
Source: Greater Manchester Public Health Network

New plans to help more people with long term conditions reap the benefits of work and improve their health.
The plans proposed today include:

  • a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome”

Source: DWP Press Release ‘Work and health plan to help disabled people into employment‘ 31/10/16

[11] HWC & the draft Employment and Support Allowance (Claimant Commitment) Regulations 2016

Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) – Minutes (pdf) on the draft Employment and Support Allowance (Claimant Commitment) Regulations 2016
SSAC: Home page, Minutes, latest, consultations, reports

“The intention was that any activity specified in a revised claimant commitment following the Health and Work Conversation would be voluntary up to
the point at which the work capability assessment (WCA) took place”

[11.1] The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013

PART 8 (Sanctions)

44.Claimant commitment – date and method of acceptance

45.Claimant commitment – exceptions

46.Purposes of a work-focused interview [inc Health and Work Conversation
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/379/contents/made

Updated 12/7/17 Added [11] and [11.1]
Updated 13/7/17 Added [3.1]

 

Aged 18 to 21? Zero wage forced-labour #workfare in England, Wales & Scotland to start October 2017 #YouthObligation

Today the DWP confirmed it’s 3 month forced-labour workfare placements for young people will start October 2017 in England, Wales and Scotland, as part of it’s Youth Obligation benefits scheme (YOBS).

These placements start after a young person has been on the Youth Obligation for six months and have been unable to find paid work and consequently:

“they must then go onto an apprenticeship, a traineeship, or “undertake work of some community value” on a placement arranged by JCP”
Source: Work and Pensions Committee – Employment opportunities for young people – 27 March 2017

“Guaranteed work experience opportunities will be sourced locally by Jobcentre Plus from registered charities and public sector organisations in England, Scotland and Wales.”
Source: DWP FOI reply 2320 – ‘Scotland and guaranteed work experience placements‘ 28/6/17

Déjà vu: Why did large charities embrace the government’s work[fare] schemes? 12/3/12

Related: Prohibition for zero wage workfare, internships and work experience of more than 4 weeks?

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Prohibition for zero wage workfare, internships and work experience of more than 4 weeks?

Conservative Lord Holmes of Richmond has introduced a Private Members’ Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) to prohibit zero wage work experience (WE) for a continuous or non-continuous period which exceeds four weeks.

[Related: Social Mobility Commission seeks to ban unpaid work, but totally ignores zero wage #workfare]

Definitions

But what about the Bill’s definition of “work experience”?

“work experience” means observing, replicating, assisting with
5and carrying out any task with the aim of gaining experience of
a particular workplace, organisation, industry or work-related
activity.”

The definition usefully adds the term “work-related activity”, which could curtail the use of “unpaid and unlimited” “work experience or a work placement” (workfare) for sick and disabled people legislated for in Section 55 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

Pedantry

On the pedantic front the term “work placement“, which is missing from the Bill, tends to be used by the DWP to refer to compulsory forced-labour zero wage “work for your benefit” “community benefit” work placements (workfare). Such as with the current Youth Obligation, Work Programme and Work and Health Programme schemes.

So therefore, the Bill’s failure to use the term “work placement” as part of it’s definition of work experience, means forced-labour workfare conscription remains untouched, including “unpaid and unlimited” for sick and disabled people?

Work placement (community benefit)
95. When a LTU participant is undertaking community benefit work placements they will have been mandated to do so using the normal mandation process. If they fail to take part in community benefit work placement you must take compliance doubt action“ (emphasis added)
Work and Health Programme – Provider Guidance – Chapter 8 – Compliance Doubt
(concerning benefit sanctions)

Youth Obligation work experience 

Don’t forget the Private Members’ National Minimum Wage (Workplace Internships) Bill 2016-17 (Ballot Bill) was abandoned due to the June 8th 2017 snap General Election. And 3 months of forced-labour “work for your benefit” workfare is called “guaranteed work experience“, for 18 to 21 year olds on the DWP Youth Obligation benefit scheme.

Traineeship work experience 

The DWP/Jobcentre ‘voluntary’ “work for your benefit” traineeships (work experience), can last up to 6 months and for 18 to 24 year olds on £57.90 a week Jobseekers Allowance that’s £1.65 an hour for a 35 hour week.

Find a traineeship
” It can last up to 6 months…You won’t be paid…”
https://www.gov.uk/find-traineeship

traineeship.png

Social class and the elephant

Put crudely, internship is a term associated to young ‘middle-class‘ doing work experience funded by the bank of mum and dad. So maybe it is reasonable to consider 6 month unpaid traineeships for unemployed are aimed at the ‘working-class‘? Therefore with all this talk of social mobility, why does this Bill and by default the Social Mobility Commission completely ignore all the zero wage “work for your benefit” only workfare schemes? Workfare is the elephant that crushes the working class, whilst the middle class merely move out of  the elephants way via Mum and Dad, supported by this Bill and the Commission?

What of prisonfare?

“The work carried out by detainees includes kitchen tasks, cleaning toilets and showers, and litter picking. They are paid £1 per hour, though for some projects this rises to £1.25 per hour.

Prisoners are paid around 20p per hour for work done as part of their rehabilitation”
Source: Guardian – Immigration detainees bring legal challenge against £1 an hour ‘slave’ wages 28/6/17

Four weeks?

Don’t forget one of the most hated forms of forced-labour was DWP’s 4 week Mandatory Work Activity, introduced during the Tory and Lib Dem 2010-15 coalition. And it was Labour who started “Work for your benefit” workfare under the Welfare Reform Act 2009 and included Mandatory Work Related Activity workfare in it’s Flexible New Deal (FND) scheme. Boycott Workfare was founded in 2010 to campaign against all forms of workfare and specifically FND’s minimum 4 week forced-labour workfare.

So for workfare and prisonfare, “Who is speaking up for disempowered and marginalised people, including the young, disabled and unemployed?”

16 weeks of unpaid ‘training’

Would this Bill capture this developing area of unpaid work?

uk

The company digitalmarketing4grads.com charges fees so graduates can undertake ‘training’, by working on live digital marketing projects for employers for zer0 wages.

Welfare Reform

Section 16 Work preparation requirement
(3) (e) undertaking work experience or a work placement
Welfare Reform Act (2012)

Section 55
“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”
Welfare Reform Act (2012) – Explanatory notes

At poundstretcher everything’s worth a pound, except you..


Workfare definitions

Boycott Workfare – “a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare” (website) – “Campaign to abolish forced unpaid labour” (twitter)

Keep Volunteering VoluntaryKeep Volunteering Voluntary – “Workfare is the name given to government schemes where unemployed and disabled people have to work in return for their benefits.” (website) – “Keep it Voluntary Promoting the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement in the voluntary sector. For volunteering, against workfare” (twitter)

Welfare Reform Act (2009)
“Work for your benefit” schemes etc.

Welfare Reform Act (2012) – Universal Credit
Section 16 Work preparation requirement

(3) (e) undertaking work experience or a work placement

Charter Against Workfare: A Statement of Principles

For any workplace based scheme for benefit claimants

“First, it must be entirely voluntary.

Secondly, there should be real training so that people go away at the end with skills that are relevant to their future employment prospects.

Thirdly, those concerned must have employee status so that they are protected by health and safety and equal opportunities legislation.

Fourthly, they must be paid the rate for the job—not benefit-plus—and,

finally, projects must have trade union approval.”

Hansard: Clare Short MP – 14th December 1987

Workfare States

“Contemporary workfare policies rarely involve job creation on any significant scale, along the lines of the old-fashioned public-works programs; they are more concerned with deterring welfare claims and necessitating the acceptance of low-paid, unstable jobs in the context of increasingly “flexible” labour markets. Stripped down to it’s labour-regulatory essence, workfare is not about creating jobs for people that don’t have them; it is about creating workers for jobs that nobody wants. In a Foucauldian sense, it is seeking to make “docile bodies” for the new economy: flexible, self-reliant and self-disciplining”

Jamie Peck in Workfare States (2001)

Download: https://refutedarchive.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/the-future-of-workfare-in-england/

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@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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Reminder: Workfare not abolished or mentioned in any 2017 election manifesto

During the 2017 snap general election no manifesto mentioned or repealed workfare (work for your benefits) legislation.

Workfare legislation (“Work for your benefit”)

Welfare Reform Act (2009) – Part 1 Social security – “Work for your benefit” schemes etc.
Welfare Reform Act (2012) – Section 16 (3) (e) and Section 55 for sick and disabled people
Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act (2013)

Compulsory schemes that include workfare

Youth Obligation
Work and Health Programme
Work Programme

Manifestos
(pdf files)

Conservative (Scotland version) – Green –  Labour (Wales version) – LiberalSNPUKIP

500000

 

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