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Reasons we need Implicit Consent or Signed Consent in Full Service

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SarahJBatty
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Thanks for pursuing this Daphne

     
EKS_COTTON
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Many thanks all.

     
Andrew Dutton
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We have a claimant who has specified on her journal that we may get involved in her UC claim - she tells me the following;

‘I left a note on my journal giving you permission to speak about my claim on my behalf, which someone saw but they advised me it wasn’t enough & had to be more specific as they only allow it to be done for a certain length of time so it has to be more detailed.’

So now the claimant has to use a specific form of words (which UC haven’t disclosed) and specify a time limit, which they cannot possibly estimate - ?

Surely UC are making this up as they go along.

     
ClairemHodgson
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Andrew Dutton - 15 June 2017 10:42 AM

We have a claimant who has specified on her journal that we may get involved in her UC claim - she tells me the following;

‘I left a note on my journal giving you permission to speak about my claim on my behalf, which someone saw but they advised me it wasn’t enough & had to be more specific as they only allow it to be done for a certain length of time so it has to be more detailed.’

So now the claimant has to use a specific form of words (which UC haven’t disclosed) and specify a time limit, which they cannot possibly estimate - ?

Surely UC are making this up as they go along.

we’d be forgiven for thinking so .....

it’s beyond irrational, the whole thing…..

has anyone with an affected case written to the ICO’s office?  that might prove beneficial….

     
Daphne
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I had another meeting with the DWP yesterday and we covered this. The wording should be something along the lines of -

I authorise [organisation] to speak to you about my [issue - should be something specific eg housing costs - not just UC claim]

They have reinforced this message to service centre staff that this is sufficient (particularly after I sent in the example above) but let me know any examples where it isn’t, and also the service centre if possible, and I will pass it back.

They also asked for more examples of where we need implicit consent ie the above system working properly isn’t sufficient. I’ve sent in everything on this thread already but other examples help them to put pressure on to get things changed.

Though also probably good to follow other courses of action too!

     
Andrew Dutton
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In this specific case, the claimant is a full-time student who was told that she did not qualify for UC - when she does - and was told to go away because ‘you don’t fit the criteria’. She was on IS and said the Jobcentre were very good dealing with this, but as soon as she had to move to UC (same circs bar the fact that her child turned age 5), they ‘washed their hands’ of her.

How in Hades do I express that as a specific issue? It would have to read ‘I authorise Welfare Rights to complain to you about the poor advice I was given which delayed my claim, also to make sure I don’t get told anything else daft and to make sure you calculate my UC properly because you appear not to understand your own rules’.

Problems have also cropped up as time has moved on (only two weeks in this case) concerning ID, refusal of an advance payment and the claimant missing an interview. Will they require specific authorisation for each development?

DWP need to understand that benefit problems may begin with one thing and then expand outwards. To restrict authorisation to specific items and arbitrary time limits will create a great deal of unnecessary work.

Also - what about the claimant’s ability to choose? If they want an adviser to look at only limited aspects of a claim, so be it, but if they want full advice across the whole range until their claim is safely launched and they know they’re being paid properly, as in this case, why shouldn’t they get it?

Are these rules actually protecting the claimant’s interests? I think not.

     
ClairemHodgson
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exactly, andrew…...

the DWP’s idea of confidentiality/dealing with personal data/etc etc etc has always been impossible to understand

     
Benny Fitzpatrick
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But Andrew, you forget, in their own minds, DWP NEVER, EVER, get anything wrong. Any confusion, error, etc is ALWAYS the fault of the claimant. Therefore there should be no need for advisers to speak to them!

     
EKS_COTTON
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Hi Daphne,

Is it possible to ask them to disclose an official template as to what they are looking for in an authority form?  Or to consider producing downloadable authority form, like the TC689 for Tax Credits?

There is a rightsnet link from 2014 that is helpful https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/5969 but not official.  A google search bears no fruit either - see https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=dwp+authority+to+disclose+template&spf=1498059221201

I think the lack of clear, definitive information out there for everyone, including DWPs own staff, is contributing to the lack of understanding out there so it could be helpful for their own purposes to do this.

EC

     
EKS_COTTON
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I see also that someone made a FOI request to clarify the position re. the working with reps guidance and Neil Coulings’ letter (which one takes precedent) but the response is far from clear I think

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/378360/response/922335/attach/3/4836.pdf

‘DWP Response
In Universal Credit live service, that is in most jobcentre areas throughout the country, the claimant does not have access to the claim information themselves via an online account. We therefore have implied consent arrangements in place so that someone can act on a claimants behalf. As the Universal Credit full service rolls out, claimants have access to their personal information via their online account - a claimant can specify explicit consent at any time via the online account or on the phone, so an advocate can enquire on their behalf. Instructions to operational staff reflect these arrangements.
All Universal Credit full service guidance can be found in the House of Commons library. Please see link below:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/commons/deposited-papers/#toggle-778
If’

Plus the link is not direct.

     
Daphne
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Hi - sorry for the delay in replying - I wasn’t in work yesterday. We have asked them for more detailed guidance on what the consent should look like so I will chase that up.

I think their position is that the working with reps guide doesn’t apply to full service which is what we are trying to challenge but without much success yet.

It is hopeless that link because you have to know the date it was put in to find it! But we have put much easier links to all that guidance in our resources section - https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/universal-credit-full-service-guidance

     
EKS_COTTON
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Hello again,

Another unhelpful reply from the Pension Service (a complaints manager) regarding implicit consent for a vulnerable older client that I am advising - see attached.  Unfortunately her case was opened in December ‘16 and is still not resolved as the pension service continue to not copy me into communications and so the client has to forward to me etc.  The Pensions Service appear to be very slow in making decisions and issuing decision letters etc in my experience.

For the record - in every letter that we send on behalf of clients, we make it clear that we are a recognized advice service (just like CAB etc).  I have escalated this to the Director General.

Irony is they have responded to our letters in the recent past - has there been some sort of DWP internal memo/guidance issued that has changed their stance on working with reps?

EC

     

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Benny Fitzpatrick
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“Another unhelpful reply from the Pension Service “

I wasn’t aware that they did any other sort of reply at the PS!

     
NAI
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EKS_COTTON - 05 July 2017 12:23 PM

Hello again,

Another unhelpful reply from the Pension Service (a complaints manager) regarding implicit consent for a vulnerable older client that I am advising - see attached.  Unfortunately her case was opened in December ‘16 and is still not resolved as the pension service continue to not copy me into communications and so the client has to forward to me etc.  The Pensions Service appear to be very slow in making decisions and issuing decision letters etc in my experience.

For the record - in every letter that we send on behalf of clients, we make it clear that we are a recognized advice service (just like CAB etc).  I have escalated this to the Director General.

Irony is they have responded to our letters in the recent past - has there been some sort of DWP internal memo/guidance issued that has changed their stance on working with reps?

EC

Ridiculous bureaucratic nonsense! Let us know how you get on.

     
EKS_COTTON
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Haha - indeed.  Thanks all will do.

     
Andrew Dutton
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A recent message to me from DWP about this matter refers to the claimant having the option to ’ add… explicit consent to [the] UC journal for each current assessment period’.

Rolling consent by the month? Surely this is not at all workable. Has anyone else come across this?

     
EKS_COTTON
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When I raised an explicit consent issue in a full service UC area recently I received the following response which mentions consent at the end of each assessment period. I am writing back to request confirmation of the providence of this information because not all of it is in line with the Neil Couling letter.  I also did an FOI response asking for the guidance document being used in UC full service (i.e. whether it was Neil Couling’s letter) and they sent me back a copy of the Working with Representatives document!!

Anyway here is the rather patronizing email:

Dear Partner

The consent area causes a lot of confusion. Official guidance states the following below, that said, the guidance does not account for the fact that general telephony agents need to pass security with a claimant before they can access the claim. If a representative calls us without the claimant on the general line then we cannot pass the security questions to access the claim let alone see that consent has been granted in writing for a representative to discuss a particular issue. For that reason written consent can be employed when contacting the case manager directly who will be aware of the consent from the claimant. As stated in guidance if there is doubt then no info is to be disclosed and not having the claimant present is enough to cause doubt to a call handler who is unfamiliar with the claimants circumstances / unable to see them.

How long does explicit consent last for?

Explicit consent is not indefinite. Once provided by the claimant, it only lasts until either:

•      the specific request for information is resolved or
•      the end of the Assessment Period after the one in which the consent was given
•      consent expiry date must be entered in the claimants profile every time.

If the query remains unresolved at the consent expiry date, the date should be reviewed and extended to the end of the next Assessment Period if necessary.
The claimant can withdraw their consent at any stage by either:
•      making an entry on the journal
•      face to face in a Jobcentre
•      by phone

Disclosure:

Once explicit consent is provided by the claimant it must be disclosed using the most appropriate channel:
•      through the journal
•      inbound or outbound call with the representative

If responding by telephone, the representative must provide the following details to verify they are entitled to receive the information:
•      the claimant’s name
•      claimant’s address or date of birth
•      what information is to be disclosed
•      the purpose for which the information is to be disclosed
•      the name of the representative and the name of the organization they belong to (where it applies)

These details should match those provided by the claimant when they gave their explicit consent and noted on their account profile.

If there is any doubt as to the identity of the representative making the inbound call no information should be disclosed. Once information has been disclosed, the consent entry in the claimant’s profile must be deleted. However it must remain in the claimant’s journal.

     
Mr Finch
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It seems informative to me that the DWP focus is very much on telling people information and not at all on listening to it.

     
Jon (CHDCA)
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I attended a meeting with some DWP staff last week, where they showed us a mock-up of a system to get explicit consent on the UC record. Basically, the claimant selects an option on the journal to say they want help from an adviser, relative etc, they select which areas they want this advocate to have access to, and a consent expiry date. They are then given an access code to pass on to their adviser. The adviser should subsequently be able to quote this number to the UC helpline in order to establish that they have explicit consent to access information from the journal.

This was in its early stages, but I think if it rolls out it should be an improvement on how explicit consent is working. Implicit consent doesn’t seem to be in their plans though.

     
EKS_COTTON
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Hi everyone,

A letter on behalf of advice workers has been drafted as a reply letter to Neil Couling’s letter dated 20/01/17 with case studies showing the problems that have resulted from the removal of the implicit/explicit consent as set out in the Working with Representatives Guidance and Escalation Points DWP documents for UC. 

We are seeking your support/sign up to the letter.  If you would like to see a copy of the letter please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I will send it to you.

We are calling for the implicit/explicit consent and escalation points documents/principles to be reinstated in UC. 

Neil Couling says there are data protection concerns with implicit consent in UC, however his argument Isn’t clear.  We are complaining that in removing implicit consent the DWP have misbalanced data protection Principle 6 (the right of a subject to access information) and Principle 7 (the responsibility of the data controller to ensure appropriate security to prevent data breaches).  We have to give them 28 days to respond to the concerns, before the Information Commissioners Office can investigate, following ICO advice.

Case studies are attached.  We would be really grateful if you could encourage the organisations you represent to sign up. 

By sign up, we mean could you let us know you are in support and what your organizational name is, and we will add to the letter before sending off.  Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

We will of course post the result.

Best wishes,

Emma Cotton, Tax and Welfare Rights Organiser @ Equity

 

      [ Edited: 13 Oct 2017 at 10:52 am by EKS_COTTON ]

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ClairemHodgson
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that’s rather good.

whether they get it or not is another matter, but really it can’t be clearer….

only possible thing you might like to add - Human Rights Act.  the VAT case was decided on that basis.  The DWP has gone down on those grounds in other issues (bedroom tax, i seem to recall, in certain instances) and doubt they’ll want to do that again so worth giving it a mention….

     
EKS_COTTON
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Many thanks Claire.  Yes - I anticipate that point may need to be made.

Does SC Law Harrow want to be added to the signatories?

     
EKS_COTTON
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I should also add that we will probably be sending off the letter shortly after 18/10/17, so it would be great if people could get back to me before then.

     
ClairemHodgson
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EKS_COTTON - 12 October 2017 12:07 PM

Many thanks Claire.  Yes - I anticipate that point may need to be made.

Does SC Law Harrow want to be added to the signatories?

probably not - we don’t do huge amounts and usually involves ensuring my PI clients have the correct benefits etc etc…..and i’ve no UC implied consent examples!

     
EKS_COTTON
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OK thanks.

     
Owen Stevens
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