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

Benefit Safeguards Guidance

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Owen Stevens
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Hi all

I was going to post the DWP Safeguarding guidance to Rightsnet but after the watering down of Work Programme Provider safeguards last month (see http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9051/) I thought I would do a final FOI to check that nothing has changed in the guidance.  Annoyingly it looks like safeguards have been moved from or deleted from the guidance chapter it had originally been in.  I have now done a fresh FOI to try to track down where, if anywhere, the guidance has gone to. 

This uncertainty over the DWP safeguards is the reason it would be good to get safeguards included in legislation - sadly the safeguards amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in the Lords is currently withdrawn.

I thought I would post the documents we have been referring to so far and post updates as I get them but bear in mind that these may now have changed.  I will post the guidance we have been using up to now, followed by the FOI that appears to show a change to one of these chapters.

You may also find the NAWRA presentation useful as well as the CPAG article and some of the other posts on safeguards:
http://www.nawra.org.uk/index.php/members-area/previous-meetings/sunderland-dec-2015/
http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/safeguarding-guidance-tool-practitioners

Owen Stevens
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Guidance documents:
•02 03 Customers with additional needs - contains the minimum requirements, see para. 20
•05 Jobcentre Offer 08 Failure to Attend/Failure to Participate in a Work-Focused Interview and Failure to Undertake Work-Related Activity – contains the strongest version of safeguarding guidance, note that it only applies in the situations set out in paras. 1 & 2 where these have been set by JCP.
•10 08 WCA Outcomes – contains guidance on safeguarding those who have missed a WCA.  This is much weaker than the guidance described in the above bullet point. 
•Work Programme Provider guidance chapters (though see the link in the post above re: significant watering down of this guidance)

I’ve also attached:
•JCP Core Visit referral guidance – this is the part of the guidance which makes clear that 2 attempts are necessary to vulnerable clients.  It also sets out other types of core visit.
•UC guidance in collected FOI responses.
•ESA incapacity reference guide which indicates those incapacities which are deemed to be ‘mental health incapacities’.
•DWP approach to vulnerability which shows the broadened focus on complex needs rather than the current ESA approach which focuses on mental health, learning difficulties, and conditions affecting cognition.

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Owen Stevens
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More guidance re: post above

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Owen Stevens
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UC chapters attached…

For previous versions of WPP guidance see the link above.  For current version see
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

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Owen Stevens
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and here’s the guidance in my most recent FOI.  I think it takes out the section on safeguarding in the FTA chapter.

The safeguarding section in that chapter was the strongest version and the closest we could find to best practice by DWP.

I’ve submitted an FOI attempting to get the most up to date guidance and also asked for any documents which DWP used to evaluate the need for this change.

[ Edited: 17 Dec 2015 at 11:07 am by Owen Stevens ]

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Owen Stevens
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My last post mentioned that the strongest version of the safeguarding guidance had either been moved or removed.  It seems to have been moved into its own chapter, I’ve attached it here.

I’m unclear why DWP have moved the guidance as the effect seems to be to make it less clear when DWP should use the guidance – the original chapter started by listing the circumstances in which the guidance should apply.

I also thought I would post guidance released recently about sanction referrals for vulnerable JSA claimants. One of the criticisms Greenwich Welfare Rights has had about the safeguards is that they do not apply to vulnerable JSA claimants.  The DWP have since released guidance that includes the following: “It is essential that the Work Coach is completely satisfied that the claimant fully understands the conditionality requirements being placed upon them and of the consequences of failing to meet them. A sanction doubt should never be raised for a claimant who, due to their complex needs, cannot understand the requirements”.  This sentence does not amount to a safeguarding procedure (and the overall direction remains a move towards individual adjustments rather than strong protections for everyone with mental health problems, learning difficulties, conditions affecting cognition).  However, thought I’d include here as advisers may find this useful when advocating for clients.  I have attached the document in which this appears.

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Owen Stevens
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Ch.6 is the version of work programme provider guidance relevant to safeguarding before the introduction of a seperate chapter in May 2015:

[edit: I thought it might also be useful to attach the first version of ch4b as introduced in May 2015]

[ Edited: 14 Nov 2016 at 02:45 pm by Owen Stevens ]

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Dan Manville
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Thanks Owen

Barbara Knight
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Curiously in the Work Programme Universal Credit Claimant provider guidance v1 aug 2015, talks about safeguarding in a way I hadn’t seen anywhere else for UC.
Has this also been retracted / disappeared?

Owen Stevens
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Hi Barbara

No, the UC safeguarding chapter of the WPP guidance still seems to be intact.  Interestingly it hasn’t been watered down in quite the same way as the ESA WPP safeguarding guidance.  You can find it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/457507/uc-work-programme-dwp-provider-guidance.pdf

Owen Stevens
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Unfortunately, DWP appear to have scrapped the minimum requirements.

The minimum requirements were contained in the guidance chapter “02_03_Customers_with_Additional_Needs” which can be downloaded above.  The minimum requirements were as follows:
“20.Where the claimant has a known background of mental illness there are minimum requirements that Jobcentre Plus should be adopting to ensure that we are not found to be neglectful in our duty of care towards these
claimants. The minimum requirements are:
- Where the claimant has been attending a Psychiatric Unit, a liaison officer should be appointed to maintain good communications between Jobcentre Plus and the Patients Affairs Officer.
- Where it is known that the claimant has a social worker designated to them we should liaise closely with Social Services Department.
- All cases, where there is a known history of mental illness, should be referred to a manager before a decision is made to withdraw benefit. The definition of a manager is Band C or above.”

This was the only instance GWRS were aware of of DWP accepting that they have a duty of care towards claimants.

The minimum requirements guidance was originally introduced in 2000 by Angela Eagle in response to a parliamentary question from Mike Wood about a constituent of his with schizophrenia who had starved to death with 9p in his pocket.  Before the constituent died he wrote a note saying that he believed the Benefits Agency had killed him.  The coroner heavily criticised the Benefits Agency.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a move away from vulnerability guidance which compels DWP to treat vulnerable claimants with extra care (also see http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9980/ and http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9051/ , also the chapter above entitled “DWP approach to vulnerability”) .

Greenwich Welfare Rights have submitted an FOI to double check that the minimum requirements have not simply been moved.

Note that much of the other safeguarding guidance still remains

Edit: have attached the before/after guidance in case this is useful to anyone in future

[ Edited: 15 Nov 2016 at 03:30 pm by Owen Stevens ]

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Dan Manville
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Owen Stevens - 19 July 2016 05:05 PM

- Where it is known that the claimant has a social worker designated to them we should liaise closely with Social Services Department.

Even before they scrapped the guidance they were refusing to follow this. “Data Protection” came back the cry when I tried invoking this guidance for some extremely vulnerable clients of mine.

 

Owen Stevens
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Absolutely, lots of problems with that.  See the following extract from the FTA/FTP chapter:

“122. To avoid any hardship to claimant’s in a vulnerable group every attempt must be made to ensure the claimant’s welfare. In the event of two
ineffective visits, the HEO must attempt to contact the following sources to establish the claimant’s welfare:
- Claimant’s Appointee/POA/next of kin,
- Claimant’s Community Psychiatric Nurse,
- Social Services,
- Police.
Note: The contact with these people/organisations is to ensure a claimant’s welfare (we have a moral obligation to make organisations aware of potential
incidents around vulnerable claimants) and not to gather information to support the Labour Market process. The Data Protection act does not allow
for these people/organisations to report back to DWP the outcome of any investigations they choose to undertake.
123. Supplying a claimant’s details to Social Services or the Police in these circumstances does not contravene the Data Protection Act. Providing that
there is evidence to support the referral, the sharing of information falls under the exemption category”

As far as I am aware this still exists in guidance though I expect that this will end up in the same way eventually.  Frustratingly the guidance in which it is included only applies in certain situations and the guidance has recently been edited to make it very unclear as to when it should apply.

Owen Stevens
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These are the previous versions of the WPP guidance chapters.  Current ones to follow…

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Owen Stevens
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These are the current WPP chapters.  No major changes though I will edit if I spot any

[ Edited: 15 Nov 2016 at 05:39 pm by Owen Stevens ]

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Owen Stevens
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Next few posts have the most recent versions of the ESA safeguarding guidance attached.  No major changes

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