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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Other universal credit issues  →  Thread

Reasons we need Implicit Consent or Signed Consent in Full Service

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SarahJBatty
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Hello, can we start a thread to log the difficulties we come across with Full Service and the tyranny of ‘Explicit Consent’ which would enable you Daphne/Shawn to collate issues to send to Stakeholders ....?

A starter.

HV today to a vulnerable man in order to access online acct and check if housing costs change of circs successfully and correctly done.  Man is ‘locked out’ of acct because forgot username/password.  These can only be reset by Appt at the Jobcentre.  Appt duly arranged.  So in spite of me being there on the phone and him giving consent verbally to speak to me now, this only lasts for this call.  It transpires that housing costs not logged and needs doing.  Instructions given to man how to do this at JC apt and instructions to him to write ‘explicit consent’ on acct.  Man vulnerable, JC help is minimal.  I have no way of following this up.  I could ring next week after the apt, but what if he hasn’t managed to put explicit consent on.  Do I have to do another HV with a laptop.  All v time consuming and complex.

     
Daphne
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Good idea Sarah - do put all your examples here and I will definitely feed them back - if they can give implicit consent to MPs staff there is no reason why welfare rights advisers and the like shouldn’t have it.

     
Jon (CHDCA)
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I don’t think the ‘note on the journal’ system is working very well.

We rang UC to ask for an update on a client’s housing element problem, pointing out that she has previously put a note on her UC journal asking for us to help. They would only speak to us if we passed full security. As it happens our advisor could answer the first question but not the second. They were aware that the client was not present (she lives in a remote rural area, has health issues impeding travel to our office). DWP suggested we ring the client, ask her for the answer to question 2 (“What film did you first see at the cinema?”), and then ring them back with the answer, and they would speak to us.

It’s inappropriate for our service to be accessing a UC account in this way, we can’t be asking clients to divulge those security details. I still fail to see why full consent or nothing is a better approach than implicit consent, which seemed to work ok for every other DWP benefit.

     
Sally63
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Slightly different, but I was trying to arrange an appointment related to UC for a client with very little English. He was with me. He did the security questions and then asked to pass the phone to me.

The call centre worker said that if he couldn’t speak enough English to manage the claim himself, he wasn’t “really” eligible for Universal Credit. She was only supposed to talk to him and if he couldn’t understand what she said she was supposed to terminate the call.

I was stunned. She wasn’t nasty or difficult about it—in fact, if her position is correct she was very nice about it because she let me talk for him even though (according to her) she shouldn’t.

But is this really the case?

     
past caring
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Sally63 - 24 April 2017 04:30 PM

But is this really the case?

Judging by written explanations for decisions, from MR notices and responses to appeals, if fluency in English were a requirement, significant numbers of DWP staff wouldn’t ne entitled.

     
BC Welfare Rights
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Sounds to me like a bit of over-enthusiastic local guidance. There has been some mutterings in the past about restricting benefit entitlement to people who don’t speak English:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-curbs-to-migrant-access-to-benefits-announced
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jobseekers-on-benefits-who-need-help-to-speak-english-will-have-to-take-up-free-language-training
http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/19774/1/ESOL_joint_DWP_SFA_note_and_QA.pdf

But I think it was just mandating people to enrol on ESOL courses or face sanctions in JSA/UC for not doing enough to find work. Did it even make it into legislation? I can’t remember.

     
ASH
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Our clients are in and out of hospital and often taking heavy duty pain relief drugs.  Access to computers and remembering the log on details is often impossible.  We have in the past been unable to inform UC that a client can’t come to an appointment because they are in hospital, that housing costs are no longer relevant because they have left their tenancy and that clients are not in a position to read any notices posted online to them because they are semi-conscious. 

Monitoring whether any clients have been paid properly is a nightmare.  The journal note system does not work even when the client can access it, no-one seems to be able to answer any queries and certainly in any timely fashion.  In my view these claimants are being denied proper access to their benefits.

The only way to avoid this appears to be to hope people are well enough when I first see them to put explicit consent onto their journals no matter what just in-case we need it later.  This should be unnecessary.

     
Benny Fitzpatrick
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We have attempted to raise our concerns both through the MP and at liason meetings with DWP. Only response is the statement issued by Damien Hinds some months ago, and much sticking fingers in ears/heads in sand when we try to raise the problems with the DWP approach. I am now convinced this is a deliberate attempt to sideline independent advisers, as there appears zero will to address or even discuss the problems.

Any ideas as to how we can change things?

     
Daphne
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I have a meeting with a couple of helpful people in UC communications in a couple of weeks - I will take these examples and raise them there in the hope that it might help some progress to be made.

     
WillH
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Slightly unusual (?) example from a large private letting management company in London. Their credit control genuinely seem to be working with tenants in a manner more akin to an HA, and they sent a member of staff on a UC training course. In the past they had no problem getting authority to find out info on a tenant from the LA - for example, to find out how much HB should be. To make things more complicated, they cover both full service and gateway areas.

They have found the UC helpline to be less than helpful, as it took several phone calls to find out about the UC47 (initially they were told - oh just email us it will be fine!)

     
ClairemHodgson
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Benny Fitzpatrick - 25 April 2017 12:55 PM

I am now convinced this is a deliberate attempt to sideline independent advisers,

well no, since this would impact on family carers, CoP deputies, all sorts of others as well as independent advisers.

I should have thought examples of the same problems facing such people could be as easily collected.


with the result that even if you are right to think they are out to get welfs, the cure for that will also benefit ordinary people trying to help their family members/friends.

 

     
ASH
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Another reason:  Elsewhere in the system there is provision to provide medical reports where they are essential to the claim but damaging or distressing to the claimant.  For example, ds1500 where the client does not want to know.  This does not appear to any provision for this in UC.

     
SarahJBatty
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UC need to be less ‘pedantic’ with their operation of ‘Explicit Consent’.  When clients have made a journal entry giving permission for our team to speak on their behalf, some UC helpline staff are insisting that a named adviser be specified in this journal entry.  This is not practical, we work in teams, to my mind it should be enough to state the name ofa ‘service’.

     
Daphne
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Have a meeting tomorrow with UC communications where the issue of consent should be covered I think so will raise your points…

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Daphne - 11 May 2017 02:10 PM

Have a meeting tomorrow with UC communications where the issue of consent should be covered I think so will raise your points…

Going to be a damn long meeting by the sound of it Daphne.

     
SarahJBatty
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**SB wishes she could be fly on wall of UC meeting**

     
Daphne
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I am hopeful of getting some answers at least - it’s with some of the most open and helpful people I’ve met at the DWP…

We’ve only got an hour scheduled Paul - it’s lucky I talk so fast ;)

     
Mike Hughes
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Have heard a tale that IT contract for UC is considered “done” thanks to some kind of dispute. So, provider won’t do updates/fixes and no-one else can step in until resolved. I’ve no idea of the veracity of the source as it was a slightly unusual context but it could make sense of the complete lack of urgency/will to improve any aspect of it.

     
SarahJBatty
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Daphne I have had severe probs with consent today for full service.  They will not allow Explict Consents on journals that are ‘too vague’ for example ‘all aspects of the UC claim’.  I have a case for a vulnerable man where they spoke to me on 28th April but will not speak to me today based on the same consent.  Even though I am chasing up the same issue - ie the fact that his LCWRA component which should have carried through from ESA in December 16 is still not in pay 5 months later.  They say the customer must go on and put a different wording on.  It is simply unworkable to deliver advice this way for vulnerable people who would need an appointment with me to log such further less vague consent.

     
Daphne
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Thanks Sarah - I will definitely bring this up and at least find out how to take it further - i’ll get back to you hopefully later tomorrow…

     
Daphne
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I’m mid meeting and being asked for examples of problems with explicit consent to send in which I will be doing at the end of this meeting. Obviously I can use all the examples on here already but if you have any other burning issues now is a good time to let me know…

     
Daphne
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Update on meeting

Re - what has to be written in the journal to provide explicit consent - they did acknowledge at the meeting that to require names in the explicit consent was not reasonable. They are going to go away and look to putting together guidance - it is getting a balance between not being too prescriptive but also indicating what is sufficient.

Re - explicit consent not working at ll - they wanted examples which I will email them from this thread and any other that are added.

     
Benny Fitzpatrick
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“It is simply unworkable to deliver advice this way for vulnerable people”

Do you not start to suspect that this is the DWP’s desired result?

     
Daphne
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To be fair I think this group of people in UC comms are keen to try and get things improved but the more evidence they have the better their chances…it’s got to be worth a go anyway…

     
EKS_COTTON
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I have put a detailed complaint in writing to DWP (including authority form which states that I would be representing him when it came to welfare benefit matters including UC) on behalf of a client with severe depression and I received the following response: 

‘I regret that we are unable to give you more information about your client without his express explicit consent about the specific issues he wishes us to discuss with you. Such explicit consent only extends to the conclusion of a particular enquiry. If a claimant wishes to raise further issues, they must again provide explicit consent for a third party to receive information about their claim.’

I don’t think I could have been any more specific - so frustrating and undermining.  I lack any sympathy for UC Comms.

Any progress yet re. UC stakeholder group Daphne?  Suppose it is only a few weeks since your last post. 

 

     
Mike Hughes
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DWP understanding of consent is “interesting”. If I give consent for you to discuss my data there are 2 key aspects. One is that the extent of MY consent is for ME to determine. If I give my consent forever or for the life of my current claim then that’s what it is. It should not be inhibited in any way by someone else deciding that they can just because they want to.

The second aspect is that the data held is about ME. I have a right to see it and to decide who else can; why and for how long. 

That DWP do this when it makes their own administration way harder beggars belief really.

The sooner we get a JR on this the better.

     
EKS_COTTON
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Totally agree.

     
EKS_COTTON
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Hi everyone,

My client has given me a signed authority to act and also posted the attached onto his UC journal.

This was the response:-

Hi ...
Whilst Universal Credit is happy to deal with a specified appointee on your behalf, you will need to follow the correct process and attend an appointment at the job centre with paperwork establishing and confirming this agreement. Please call 0345 600 4272 and explain the situation to the agent who answers the phone. They will be able to book an appointment for you.
Kind regards,
Amy

Appointee?  I thought the authorization made it clear that I am a representative?  Plus, would someone who needs an appointee be able to understand/respond to this request by DWP?

I really do feel that this situation is becoming ridiculous now. And time wasting.

I know a letter was sent to the previous SofS for DWP about this issue with no success - is it a good idea to try again?  A joint letter from as many welfare rights services as possible?

Best,

EC

     

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Daphne
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That is not in line with Neil Couling’s letter

I will raise it again via stakeholders…

     
ClairemHodgson
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have to say i’m not sure how much clearer your client’s authority would need to be to count as valid consent. 

DWP’s attitude wholly ridiculous.

     
Daphne
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I’ve had a reply back saying they’re looking into it and will be reinforcing the explicit consent model with all service centre staff - will keep you informed of anything else…