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New Rules Restricting MPs Helping UC Claimants Are ‘Barrier To Justice’

March 6, 2017

New rules restricting MPs from intervening with officials directly to resolve benefit payment problems on behalf of constituents are a major barrier to justice, ministers have been warned.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has told MPs it will not discuss individual universal credit cases with them unless the claimant has given formal “explicit consent” by issuing detailed instructions via their online DWP account.

MPs said the restrictions will create a fresh layer of bureaucracy and pile extra pressure on vulnerable people who have approached their MP as a last resort to resolve problems such as non-payment of benefits.

Up to now, MPs have been able to contact the Department for Work and Pensions directly to deal with benefit problems on the basis that they had the “implicit consent” of the claimant who raised the issue with them.

“It [the restriction] makes the job more tiresome, slows it down, and creates more work for constituents. It’s barmy and unnecessary, and it’s a major barrier to justice,” said Frank Field, the chairman of the work and pensions select committee.

Welfare rights advisers have also raised the issue, warning the DWP last year that restrictions around “explicit consent” made it near-impossible for them to resolve benefit issues on behalf of some vulnerable clients, including for example those with learning disabilities, or those gravely ill in hospital beds who are unable to access their online DWP accounts.

Field said he had raised the issue in person recently with the work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, who Field said was sympathetic. However, this week, a caseworker in Field’s constituency office trying to resolve a benefits issue on behalf of a constituent was refused by the DWP.

A DWP spokesman said: “This issue has been raised with the department and we are actively looking into it. The DWP always takes steps to protect personal data and make decisions in the best interests of the claimant.”

Karen Buck MP said: “People come to me because we [MPs] are the only named people in the system they can find. If we have to turn people away, asking them to jump through hoops before we can help them, it is only going to make people feel disempowered.”

She added: “The more complex the demands we put on vulnerable people, the easier it should be for representatives to intervene on their behalf.”

The note to MPs, sent in February, says that before MPs become involved in a case constituents must provide the DWP “with the specific details of the issues they would like us to discuss with you” via their online journal, through which all their universal credit business is transacted.

The DWP’s director general of universal credit, Neil Couling wrote to welfare advisers in January arguing that explicit consent was necessary because of the risk of that disclosure of material to third parities would breach data protection rules.

He wrote: “I realise that as bona fide advisers this may seem unduly cautious, but we face regular attempts by unscrupulous organisations and individuals to access information from us and we need to take all reasonable steps to protect the position of claimants and their data which we hold.”

The explicit consent rule applies to claimants on the full service universal credit, of which there are around 450,000 in the UK. It does not apply to people claiming legacy benefits such as housing benefit.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. nick permalink
    March 6, 2017 11:28 am

    the main rule for help from your mp is to ask him for a form to sign which will then give him the rights to ask the DWP /TAX / DOCTOR / to act on your behalf

  2. March 6, 2017 12:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Christopher John Ball.

  3. March 6, 2017 1:09 pm

    ….. and ‘the dog ate their homework’.

    *ALL* Mp’s have a ‘Public Duty’ to –

    “The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament…
    5. Members have a duty to uphold the law,”

    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmcode/1885/188502.htm

    Why won’t those criminal abuser MP’s just report DWP crime to the Police?
    Why won’t those criminal abuser MP’s just report DWP abuse to Social Services?

    “wilful neglect of a public duty” =
    Misconduct in Public Office –
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/misconduct_in_public_office/
    “It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.”

    Assisting an Offender – section 4(1) Criminal Law Act 1967 –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1967/58/section/4

    Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/24-25/94/crossheading/as-to-abettors-in-misdemeanors

    —-

    Usually covering up DWP’s –

    Malicious Communications Act –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/27/section/1

    Protection from Harassment Act 1997
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1997/40/contents

    Fraud Act 2006 –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/35/contents

    Witness Intimidation –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/51

    Criminal Attempts Act 1981 –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/47/contents

    ABH/GBH
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/offences_against_the_person/

    Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter –
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/homicide_murder_and_manslaughter/

    Disability Hate Crime – CPS Legal Guidance –
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/disability_hate_crime/

    Care Act 2014 –
    Safeguarding adults at risk of abuse or neglect –
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/23/section/42/enacted

    • nick permalink
      March 6, 2017 6:16 pm

      Yes indeed you cover the above most expertly

      • March 7, 2017 4:38 am

        Oooh thanks Nick…

        The main thing I forgot to put above, that all of those criminal MP’s are doing, is –

        Perverting The Course of Justice –
        http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/public_justice_offences_incorporating_the_charging_standard/
        It also carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

        Not just MP’s of course…
        All the criminal Fake ‘legal’ advisers, charities, CAB’s, campaigners, quacks, local politicians and the rest who insist that you have to just try and get through all of the DWP’s criminal Witness Intimidation (appeals and tribunals) and won’t even mention Fraud or Abuse or Misconduct… or The Police.

      • nick permalink
        March 7, 2017 10:53 am

        you’re welcome
        if only this country had proper researchers like yourself along with a few mp’s then we wouldn’t have this mess in politics today and thousands of sick and disabled would still be alive

      • March 7, 2017 5:05 am

        Oh…

        And this story comes from The Guardian.

        A lot of DWP criminal abusers are members of a union called PCS.
        The guy in charge of protecting those PCS nonce sickos Mark Serwotka writes for the Guardian.

        (tho maybe not for much longer)
        https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/08/mark-serwotka-heart-transplant-papworth
        When he was in hospital did any of his DWP PCS union members phone him up and demand to do a ‘fit for work assessment’ on him? Did they also stop all of his income and try to starve him to death?

        Don’t expect anything but Fake News from The Guardian.

      • March 7, 2017 7:04 pm

        Thanks Nick…

        It’s more just googling than research.

        eg.
        Here is what I just found…

        As well as protecting DWP criminal abusers the PCS Union is also protecting ATOS criminal abusers.
        (Along with the Labour Party bribing Unison criminals)

        “More than 1,500 PCS union members at Atos Healthcare and Atos IT Services”
        http://uniteresist.org/2012/07/pcs-members-at-olympic-sponsor-atos-will-strike-over-pay/

        And DWP-ATOS-PCS want to be bestest buddies with criminal nonce Jermeny ATOS-Unison Corbyn.
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35785156

        Anyone got any good ‘heartless DWP’ jokes?
        or ‘heartless Guardian’ jokes?

        —-

        And also reading the laws I’ve found out about…
        Actually once you get the hang of how laws are written they’re mostly pretty easy to understand. The Fraud Act is a good place to start (and the favorite crime of public sector nonce filth).

        >we wouldn’t have this mess in politics today
        Politics is for morons and criminals.. and they’re usually both.
        “Oh yes it is.. Oh no it isn’t.. Oh yes it is.. Gimme the cash…”

      • March 9, 2017 12:42 pm

        A bit more info on The Atos/DWP criminal abusers Union PCS…

        “Jeremy Corbyn Allies Mark Serwotka… Been Readmitted To The Labour Party”
        http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/03/02/trade-union-leaders-mark-_n_9368740.html

        PCS Wales Committee –
        http://www.pcs.org.uk/wales/pcs-wales-committee
        “DWP, MoJ, HMRC, Welsh Government, National Assembly for Wales”

        PCS London and the south east Regional Committee members –
        http://www.pcs.org.uk/london-and-the-south-east/london-and-south-east-regional-committee/regional-committee-members
        “DWP, Home Office, HMRC, Office of the Public Guardian”

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