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UC phone access

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Andrew Dutton
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Welfare rights service - Derbyshire County Council

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He only responds to Thank-You cards….

stevenmcavoy
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could i have any exisitng uc escalation numbers please?  just been denied implicit consent for client not in full service area.

Stuart
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Neil Couling, before the Scottish Social Security Committee on 15 December, says implied consent does not apply to UC full service -

We have implied consent in live service, but we do not have it in full service… because the claimant has full access to all the information that we hold on them. If someone went into a Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) office and said that they were having a problem with their universal credit claim, the adviser could go on to one of its systems and see the whole claim. They could see everything that the assessor had at the DWP end.

The fact that we do not have implied consent in full service does not mean that the adviser cannot ring up. If the claimant would like the adviser to speak for them, what they need to do is simple: they just put in the journal, “I would like my adviser, Neil Couling, to speak to you about this.” We will then speak to the adviser. We might check back that the person is in the room with the adviser. If they are not in the room, we will set up a three-way telephone call. If someone in a rural community has rung CAS and wants CAS to ring us, we will set up a three-way call for them.

Although we do not have implied consent, we have not withdrawn anybody’s rights to do stuff. I have said to my team that we must explain to the advice world how it works in the new system.

https://shar.es/1Do7aB

Jon (CHDCA)
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Mr Couling may find it “simple” to upload a consent request to an online account and then co-ordinate a three-way phone call, but for many people who need the intervention of an advisor, this policy seems to me to be bringing Equalities Act complaints into play.

I also find it disappointing that a change to the consent policy has not been published and discussed before the roll-out.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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I agree. I find the general approach with DWP to Universal Credit apparently being a complete intransigence in contemplating any possible changes to the Full Digital approach - they want everything external to fit to the new system and if that doesn’t work, well tough. We’re seeing this in all kinds of areas, whether the lunacy around APA’s and DHP’s, or claiming C-JSA or C-ESA with UC, and so on. It’s a real “computer says no” world we appear to be entering.

[ Edited: 21 Dec 2016 at 10:40 am by Paul_Treloar_AgeUK ]
neilbateman
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This really is classic stupid DWP corporate introspective and top-down behaviour.  They seem to be incapable of learning from past mistakes.

It produces a process which is unworkable for advisers, clients and also DWP staff.  It may be that they really do want to obstruct access by advisers pointing out their mistakes and mounting challenges, but they ought to have at least have had the courtesy to consult the advice sector at one of the consultative fora before doing this.

So yet again, they fail to ask the advice sector about policies which directly affect them.

Then they compound the mistakes arising out of that by displaying zero understanding of how the advice sector works and how diverse it is - first tier, second tier, specialist, generalist, etc. 

Advisers are increasingly doing less face to face work with clients.  This is because face to face work is so time consuming and most can be done better and faster away from the client.  Indeed, many advice agencies operate telephone and/or email access only.  Advisers like everyone may also work from home.

Moreover, the structure of advisers work has always been that even if they do see a client face to face to get initial instructions and review documents, they actual casework is done later making phone calls and writing letters when the client is not around.  Again this is a far more efficient way to work.

DWP seem to think that all advisers are like an old-style, part time, generic CAB volunteer adviser who would see clients on a one-off face to face basis with no follow up work.

nevip
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Mr Couling obviously has no understanding of the common law of agency

Benny Fitzpatrick
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This could set a very awkward precedent, if it is extended to the new online appeals process, for example. IMHO it’s a blatant attempt to sideline advisers and therefore disadvantage claimants by weighting the dice in favour of the DWP.

We should raise this with MPs. It is not acceptable.

Stuart
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Neil Couling says he plans to give more details about reasons and process for explicit consent in a letter…

https://twitter.com/NeilCouling/status/811327071955849217

Mr Finch
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And as usual, he’s conflating implicit consent with actual written consent.

Mike Hughes
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I have to pinch myself as a reminder that, much as we talk of implied consent, the actuality as I write this is that it’s more breached than observed regardless of the national guidance and some pockets of excellence. Who hasn’t be asked security questions instead of implied consent questions or been asked if they’re on the Apollo list in the past month? Has it really changed in the past decade. Given the turnover of staff and ever changing geographical distribution of work I do think it somewhat of a Sisyphean task to get the thing working uniformly across the over politicised mess which is currently the DWP.

I think it’s also as well to remember that we are working under a government which made a concerted attempt to obliterate the advice sector and with the exception of Citizens Advice and other charities with whom it seems to have fallen into some kind of partnership/Robert Johnson at the crossroads type arrangement, it generally believes it has succeeded. To consult us would be to admit that we still exist and that would simply be politically unacceptable when the message is that claimants can do everything themselves and, in the supposedly unlikely and exceptional event that they might not, then don’t worry because “systems” are in place!

Put in that context I can’t say I’m really surprised that a change has been made and it’s obvious we will see that change spread further than UC. The real problem is that the change itself can, by anyone in our non-existent sector, be clearly seen as having been set up to fail. Equality Act complaints here we come. 

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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FOI request been submitted about the apparent scrapping of implicit consent.

New guidance for Working with representatives

Andrew Dutton
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I share everyone’s outrage about this - Mike Hughes, that’s a great post.

I work in a service which has very little capacity for face to face work and part of my job is to work on a phone/email helpline. We are all too often contacted by people who are in desperate straits and who need an answer as quickly as possible. We obtain signed authorisation, but this can take time unless the claimant has the equipment and skills to scan and email a form.

Implied consent has a clear, obvious and beneficial function. It has worked in a hit-and-miss way around here, but this block refusal from UC will just add to the chaos and will directly harm claimants.

ClairemHodgson
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substantial human rights implications.  particularly in relation to those, such as andy’s clients, who physically cannot access anything.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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As a certain Mr Mcavoy said to me on twitter the other day:

i will just get my clients with learning disabilities to pop on the computers they dont have/cant use and put a note on

stevenmcavoy
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 21 December 2016 01:44 PM

As a certain Mr Mcavoy said to me on twitter the other day:

i will just get my clients with learning disabilities to pop on the computers they dont have/cant use and put a note on

I really cant under estimate the impact this will have on my work when the full roll out is complete (ha ha).

at present I offer phone advice to clients with learning disabilities/autism Scotland wide and face to face advice services depending on the situation but usually in the central belt just purely due to geography.

we have one other worker doing face to face work in Glasgow and north Lanarkshire due to funding and then me.

this nonsense will severely restrict the number of people we can help for no good reason.

as you can probably tell…..raging.

 

C Hammersley
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I was at a meeting a few weeks ago with someone from the UC Full Service was speaking. He also confirmed that implicit consent would not exist in Full Service, this was discussed in a wider discussion on information being shared with 3rd parties, which was more focused on disclosure to landlords than disclosure to the advice sector.

He indicated that the reason for this is, because the nature of UC Full Service, of clients having their own accounts with their data on, this has different legal implications for what data the DWP can then share with any 3rd party. He did say they were looking at how they can get around the legal constraints, however I get the feeling that with the scale of things they need to address with Full Service it is probably not as high up the list as we would like.

In some ways there could be an opportunity, with UC Full Service, to find a route to assist clients that is better than implicit consent, which we all know is variable and inconsistently applied across DWP. What if it was possible for authorized 3rd parties to be able to access UC accounts, or parts of the accounts, on a read only basis? Could 3rd party organizations be authorized/registered in the same way that we can be with HMRC to submit authorizations online? I suggested this to the DWP representative, and he stated that the technology was there to do this, it was getting around the legal issues on data sharing.

The other point he made was that written authorisation to act as a representative wouldn’t be of help either with UC Full Service, as claimants do not sign a claim form, therefore they would have no way to verify the clients signature. How are advisers going to submit MR’s?

SarahJBatty
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Really glad they adopted an ‘agile’ approach and did ‘test and learn’ on Full Service to iron out all these legal and operational issues before rolling it out nationally to vulnerable people for whom it is the only means of survival ......

Oh. Hang. On. A. Minute.

Benny Fitzpatrick
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So no written consent either?

I really struggle to believe that nobody at the DWP had the intelligence to foresee the problems for claimants this delivery model would create. Is the entire department staffed by cretins and yes-men? (Rhetorical question!!!!).

benefitsadviser
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I struggle to believe for one second that this is incompetence or lack of foresight by the department.

It seems to me to be just good old fashioned plain malice.

The DWP have been going to extraordinary lengths to make life difficult for my clients for no good reason, and the withdrawal of Implied consent is just a further example of their blatant disregard for the needs of their fellow human beings

Benny Fitzpatrick
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Fellow Human Beings?????

I think you are being over generous to the DWP there!! Not an atom of humanity about them!

SarahJBatty
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Waiting times to get through to UC Full Service helpline were 15 to 20 minutes yesterday. Which I found appalling. Especially as the people trying to ring were people trying to get some money before Christmas or at least a payment date.

You can’t get an advance payment of UC until both partners have had identity appointments. In one clients case yesterday he had claimed on 18th, had his appt at JC on 22nd but neither helpline nor Work Coach had made an appt for his wife, which now cannot be booked in till 5/1/17. So no advance can be requested until then.

Another man who couldn’t get through on the phone had to leave the job centre as it was closing, and was told to return next morning.

To quote the Raymond Briggs festive character ‘happy blooming christmas’

CANcan
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Not had enough UC cases yet to encounter a problem with implicit consent although this sounds very concerning but today I had an even more ludicrous case. I phoned UC helpline with client present - I got through to a UC adviser and said I was speaking on behalf of client and asked if she wanted NINO first or if I should put client straight on (usual spiel).

She was clearly braced for this because she immediately flew into “Well not only do I need to speak to the client to go through security but that will have to be done with you out of earshot to protect his data security.”

I was baffled and pointed out that this was not practical as am in a very small office, and this didn’t sound right. The very officious adviser then got rather snippy and said that she had delivered the presentation herself so she could assure me it was right and I didn’t seem to be up to date with current procedure. She attempted to explain that I could be taking down the client’s private details when he was giving them.

I pointed out that as I was a rep I had all of his details on my client logging system in front of me anyway but she wasn’t for accepting this. I advised her I would go off and check her guidance and phone back.

When I got the client to phone back himself, sure enough the questions he was asked for security (by a less officious adviser) were nothing I didn’t have on his file so this seems totally pointless.

Anyone else encountered this?

SarahJBatty
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Well today, I tried to use Mr Couling’s advice on how simple it is to navigate the system for advisers, but to no avail.  I was trying to request APA for fortnightly payments on vulnerability.

The helpline told me that if the client tells the Workcoach that he gives consent for me to act then it can be noted on the account, as per Mr C.  I was in the jobcentre at the time so I popped to see the workcoach prior to his appt with her, asked her to consider the APA and then asked her to note his consent once he had given it.  I was told firmly NO that cannot happen - no consent can be recorded on the account and that is the latest guidance. She did send the APA request to the decision maker but without being able to provide the decision maker with my details in case there were any questions ....... so makes not sense to me, as they are asking professionals to recommend APA but not giving them any way to do so!

Later today I had entirely different experience. I was with the client but Helpline were more than happy with a simple ‘yes’ from him on the phone and then for me to relay his security questions by me simply asking him them out loud and then me repeating them down the phone.

Daphne
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A brief update from stakeholders today -

Implicit consent can’t work in full service because of a higher risk - above ‘acceptable risk’ - although it was very hard to ascertain exactly why this was…

They said there were two ways to give explicit consent -

Online journal - needs to say who you give consent to and for what purpose - consent will last as long as issue does - in theory if you ring helpline subsequently they should be able to see consent

On phone - by using 3 way call but they need to do 2 way call privately with claimant first to ask security questions.

We started raising cases where these would not work but ran out of time but have agreed to email scenarios or specific case studies in so please either put here or message me direct and I will feed back.

If specific case studies they ask you to include -
1. Did you want to give or receive info?
2. Whether you had access to the online journal with the claimant?
3. Whether you tried to ring the helpline with the claimant but couldn’t get through?

SarahJBatty
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Hi Daphne
Was there any mention of the arrangements for social landlords to give or receive information.  Their position is slightly different as they may not be ringing on behalf of the claimant, but rather in connection with specific queries relating to housing costs where an APA may or may not be in payment.  As you say, the three-way call or recorded consent will just not be possible in a range of situations where a tenancy is at risk.  I have asked what the arrangements are for such queries and had no local reply yet.
Thanks
Sarah

shawn mach
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Letter from the DWP’s Neil Couling:

We have received a number of enquiries about the issue of disclosure of personal information to third parties, representatives and advisers within the Universal Credit full service. These arrangements are different to those that many advisers have been familiar with over an extended period of time for existing benefits. I promised to write to set out the position and explain why the changes have taken place ....

Universal Credit Full Service - Information for welfare advisors on explicit consent and personal data (20 January 2017)

SarahJBatty
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The obvious barrier for the claimant phoning in to give explicit consent or ‘arranging a three-way phone call’ is the cost of the telephone helpline, and the wait times for calls to be answered.  I am unclear how will people manage who have no credit on their phone and who also cannot access their online account.  Does anyone else understand this?

 

Peter Turville
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I cannot see why providing implicit consent posses any greater risk with UC, as Couling claims, than it does with other benefits. The current guidance makes clear what info. DWP will (and therefore will not) disclose.

There is no reason why that cannot work equally well (or badly) under UC. The only increased risk would be from poorly trained DWP staff who don’t understand their own guidance.

This is policy driven with little recognition of the increased difficulties it will generate like that described by Sarah above.

stevenmcavoy
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SarahJBatty - 24 January 2017 03:49 PM

The obvious barrier for the claimant phoning in to give explicit consent or ‘arranging a three-way phone call’ is the cost of the telephone helpline, and the wait times for calls to be answered.  I am unclear how will people manage who have no credit on their phone and who also cannot access their online account.  Does anyone else understand this?

right now.

1 speak to client.  realise problem/need info from dwp
2. call dwp…..ok maybe wait half an hour….get info
3. action

with uc

1. speak to client
2 wait on them accessing online account….could be then…could be a day or two
3. action/sorry we cant see the note/client doesnt give authority for that… and so on