Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

More Spiteful Rules for Claimants Trying to Get Help with Benefit Problems from MPs.

with 22 comments

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Always makes “decisions in the best interests of the claimant.”

New rules restricting MPs from intervening with officials directly to resolve benefit payment problems on behalf of constituents are a major barrier to justice, ministers have been warned. ( Guardian).

(Without detracting from the details what this means is that you will have to mount a quasi-legal case to involve a MP *and* let the DWP, who always have our best interests at heart, know what you are doing…”The DWP has told MPs it will not discuss individual cases with them unless they have the explicit online consent of claimants..”)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has told MPs it will not discuss individual universal credit cases with them unless the claimant has given formal “explicit consent” by issuing detailed instructions via their online DWP account.

MPs said the restrictions will create a fresh layer of bureaucracy and pile extra pressure on vulnerable people who have approached their MP as a last resort to resolve problems such as non-payment of benefits.

Up to now, MPs have been able to contact the Department for Work and Pensions directly to deal with benefit problems on the basis that they had the “implicit consent” of the claimant who raised the issue with them.

“It [the restriction] makes the job more tiresome, slows it down, and creates more work for constituents. It’s barmy and unnecessary, and it’s a major barrier to justice,” said Frank Field, the chairman of the work and pensions select committee.

Welfare rights advisers have also raised the issue, warning the DWP last year that restrictions around “explicit consent” made it near-impossible for them to resolve benefit issues on behalf of some vulnerable clients, including for example those with learning disabilities, or those gravely ill in hospital beds who are unable to access their online DWP accounts.

Field said he had raised the issue in person recently with the work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, who Field said was sympathetic. However, this week, a caseworker in Field’s constituency office trying to resolve a benefits issue on behalf of a constituent was refused by the DWP.

The DWP’s alternative News Factory replied,

A DWP spokesman said: “This issue has been raised with the department and we are actively looking into it. The DWP always takes steps to protect personal data and make decisions in the best interests of the claimant.”


Karen Buck MP said: “People come to me because we [MPs] are the only named people in the system they can find. If we have to turn people away, asking them to jump through hoops before we can help them, it is only going to make people feel disempowered.”

She added: “The more complex the demands we put on vulnerable people, the easier it should be for representatives to intervene on their behalf.”

The note to MPs, sent in February, says that before MPs become involved in a case constituents must provide the DWP “with the specific details of the issues they would like us to discuss with you” via their online journal, through which all their universal credit business is transacted.

The DWP’s director general of universal credit, Neil Couling wrote to welfare advisers in January arguing that explicit consent was necessary because of the risk of that disclosure of material to third parities would breach data protection rules.

He wrote: “I realise that as bona fide advisers this may seem unduly cautious, but we face regular attempts by unscrupulous organisations and individuals to access information from us and we need to take all reasonable steps to protect the position of claimants and their data which we hold.”

The explicit consent rule applies to claimants on the full service universal credit, of which there are around 450,000 in the UK. It does not apply to people claiming legacy benefits such as housing benefit.


Written by Andrew Coates

March 6, 2017 at 1:17 pm

22 Responses

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  1. The DWP are hiding behind data protection rules to bully claimants into having a UJ account. Once they’ve got them to sign up, then there’ll be more encouragement (bullying) from the Jobcentre for access, and so on. This is totalitarianism by the back door.

    jj joop

    March 6, 2017 at 3:46 pm

  2. This of course remains:

    Andrew Coates

    March 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    • What are you all moaning about? Hammond is dropping the taper on earnings in Universal Credit from 65% to 63% – A WHOLE TWO PENCE IN THE POUND! – meaning that for every hour you work while receiving Universal Credit on the minimum wage you could be as much as 14 PENCE AN HOUR BETTER OFF!

      Don’t let it go to your heads now.

      What a great guy Hammond is.

      (Of course the benefit freeze will continue as will all of the cuts in social security Osborne planned.)


      March 7, 2017 at 8:48 am

    • “Tory MPs also want him to delay £30-a-week cuts to disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), due to kick in from April 2017.”

      This has already been delayed by four years. If Hammond delays it yet again, they will only want yet another delay when the delay is up. This is as bad as those women bleating on about pension changes we were all told about 20-odd years ago. You couldn’t make this stuff up.


      March 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

      • Exactly. Who do these people think they are asking to be allowed tbe means to live a halfway-decent life? The cheek of some people. It’s almost as if they feel they have a contribution to make!


        March 7, 2017 at 11:18 am

      • Hear, hear! How bloody dare they!

        Old Tory

        March 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    • What about Hammond reversing his predecessor, George Osborne’s cruel, spiteful and unnecessary “freeze” to working-age benefits such as JSA and tax credits. And a refund of the arrears due wouldn’t go amiss and would certainly boost his popularity 😀 A vote winner for sure 😀

      The Skint Family

      March 7, 2017 at 10:28 am

  3. Meanwhile there is no DPA while in a JC, if one knows about it what do they say or do.


    March 6, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    • enigma

      quite right – and that begs a question – there’s several I have on this [pardon me Andrew] Bullshit but just off the top of my head.

      JSA etc and UC are computer based – why the difference in treatment?
      This putting up of barriers could well be seen as discriminatry which therefore negates it from the get go – and a senior civil servant says its okay. Really? He is nuts if he thinks he is beyond the law on this.
      If there is a fundamental difference between UC/JSA etc that allows a data breach to occur I wonder what the Information Commission’s view on that – and on only allowing a internal review… OOooopss.
      I wonder too about what this data hole is that now so apparent and never brought up before.
      What about Criminal Activity against the claimant – and allowing only internal review? I am sure the Plods will be overjoyed to hear of this…
      I keep coming back to what is the fundamental difference in data handling between UC and all the other benefits. Oh, and a little thing called the proof of what he claims.

      The whole basis of any kind of system that involves us the public is it must be built on the basis of fairness, nothing about this is fair and we all know why.

      If this ‘Tool’ of a Civil Servant is hauled before the Beak, it will get messy, right quick. If the Plods get involved I personally would be heading for the hills….

      Once again “Alternative Facts DWP” rears its ugly head


      March 6, 2017 at 6:33 pm

  4. The idea behind all this is obvious isn’t it? To try to force people into claiming and managing benefits themselves over the internet, so that the DWP can close Jobcentres and sack shit loads of civil servants to save money, and put up barriers to discourage people from appealing or challenging decisions made in respect to entitlements. If you make such things harder and harder and erect more and more obstacles, requiring more and more effort to overcome, fewer and fewer people will bother to contest things and the DWP will be able to pull more tricks without scrutiny.

    The DWP don’t like people who question or answer back.

    Tightening the screws is an effective way to put people in their place.


    March 7, 2017 at 8:41 am

    • Many many more people will end up out in the cold as a result.


      March 7, 2017 at 8:52 am

      • Or inside in the cold (if they are ‘lucky’).


        March 7, 2017 at 11:22 am

      • Mr or Mrs enigma. Jack wills shop in Ipswich 3 sleeping in doorway at 7am today. No reply req. You only need walk from majors corner to civic drive just see how many there are in the doorways. BTW a lot now putting gates or moving doors forward.

        ramases the third

        March 8, 2017 at 7:45 am

    • 1984.


      March 7, 2017 at 11:23 am

      • Yea and the reports By the BBC on Samsung TVs read 1984 is 2017

        ramases the third

        March 8, 2017 at 7:47 am

      • The BBC has reported today that Wikileaks has published CIA documents showing that the three-letter agency found a way of eaves-dropping through the built-in microphone on Samsung TVs even if they were switched of.


        March 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Declaration Of Opinion .

    Mark Catlin

    March 8, 2017 at 2:35 am

  6. Just seen on welfare weekly that MPS will be allowed to carry on helping claimants wit their claims without the e permission but advice workers ect might still need it


    March 9, 2017 at 6:16 pm

  7. […] More Spiteful Rules for Claimants Trying to Get Help with Benefit Problems from MPs. […]

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