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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Work capability issues and ESA  →  Thread

Watering down of ESA Work Programme Provider (WPP) Safeguards

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Total Posts: 211

Joined: 8 August 2012

Hello

Following on from the article on safeguarding in the October CPAG Welfare Rights Bulletin I have noticed that DWP have made some significant changes to WPP safegaurding procedures on 09/11/15 and 29/10/15.  This further illustrates the points on watering down of guidance which I made in my SSAC briefing of 22/10/15 (attached).

Comparing the new flowcharts (which set out high level must do’s) with the old flowcharts illustrates this point (also attached).  For those who are interested I have attached the old chapters in full and the links to the new guidance are here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/476639/wp-pg-chap-4b.pdf
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/476225/wp-pg-chapter-6.pdf

The changes I have spotted in this new guidance are:
1) WPPs are now required to raise a sanction doubt for claimants they have attempted to safeguard but been unable to see face to face.  Previously ESA safeguarding guidance said they did not have to do this.  This brings the ESA guidance in line with the more stringent UC safeguarding guidance.
2) Those mandated during a face to face discussion do not have to be safeguarded.  The logic behind this is that they have had their responsibilities explained to them.  We have always thought of safeguarding as something that should take place after a failure and before any action which could result in loss of benefit.  This seems to completely change that approach.
3) A compliance check has been introduced where DWP will check whether the WPP has safeguarded on a case.  This implies no-one was doing this before - while we knew DWP weren’t collecting stats on this we had assumed they were at least checking up on this!  I have submitted an FOI to find out more about the guidance for DWP on these checks.  In due course I will request information on stats.  This is a good, if overdue, development. 

Overall, this further watering down of guidance reinforces the need for DWP to respond to the Work and Pensions Select Committee recommendation that safeguards be put into legislation.  Last week Lord Low indicated in the HoL that he would be putting forward an amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill to attempt to secure this.

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Owen Stevens
forum member

Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

Send message

Total Posts: 211

Joined: 8 August 2012

Update to WPP safeguarding guidance chapter as of 1/3/16. 

No major changes to the operation of the safeguards since the changes referred to above.  However, the section defining vulnerability now refers to the definition as the ‘work programme definition’ rather than the ‘official definition’ which makes me worry about the shape of safeguarding in any future replacement to the work programme.

Disappointingly there is no further detail on the new compliance checks around safeguarding.  My FOIs seem to suggest that DWP do not keep statistics resulting from these compliance checks.

Guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/510873/work-programme-provider-guidance-chapter-4b.pdf

[edit: uploaded the FOI which shows that DWP do not keep data on DMA Work Programme Referral cancellations - if kept this would indicate the results of the CMO check referred to above]

[ Edited: 14 Nov 2016 at 02:43 pm by Owen Stevens ]

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