Understanding Welfare Rights can at times seem very frustrating and confusing. But do remember the frontier of rights is ever shifting.
Consent is very important
The website consent.me.uk was set up on 21 December 2011, as a way of securing people’s rights of consent to how their Personal Data is obtained, processed and shared, under the Data Protection Act requirement to obtain explicit consent from participants conscripted onto the DWP’s flagship Work Programme.
As a mark of consent.me.uk’s success after 25 months since the June 2011 launch of the WP and complaints from it’s Providers unable to secure outcome payments [cash], as people either withheld or withdrew their Personal Data sharing consent, the DWP and ConDem coalition has sought to subvert the long standing principle of consent by issuing a Designation Order. All highlighted in the WP Memo 134:
WP134 Provider Memo – Claimant consent 17 October 2013 Guidance
“This issue arises from employers and Work Programme providers being prevented from claiming job outcomes [cash] by individuals removing or not giving consent for their employment in formation to be shared with DWP.”
Q: Can I still regain control over my consent?
Whilst the DWP and it’s WP Providers have been given new powers to contact employers to track WP participants so they can obtain or validate payment claims. There is no obligation for employers to give either the DWP or it’s Providers employee Personal Data.
“There is no legal obligation on employers to provide [employee] information [to DWP or it’s Providers] and they can not be sanctioned for failing to do so.” [emphasis added]
From: ‘Consent Flag’ – DWP Central FoI Team – 29 October 2013 – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/180780/response/444351/attach/html/3/FOI%204864.pdf.html
Q: What should I do then?
A: Do not give employer/employment details to the DWP/Jobcentre or it’s Providers and or Write to you employer saying something along the lines of:
RE: My Data Protection Act (1998) consent to share my Personal Data
I am writing to advise that I do not or no longer consent/give permission for you as my employer, under my Data Protection Act (1998) rights, to confirm or deny I am employed by you or to share my employee Personal Data including but not exclusively my Job Title, Hours of Work, Works Number, Wages etc, with any Third Party.
If anyone whatsoever should contact you for my Personal Data please request them to write to me at my home address, permission for you to share my home address is not given.
Please note any Third Party includes The Department for Work and Pensions/Jobcentre Plus or any of it’s Providers such as [Name of Provider/Subcontractor].
If anyone supplies you with a form a signed giving consent to share the aforementioned employee person data, I confirm this is no longer valid.
Exceptions to above are given for HMRC for income tax and national insurance purposes.
Beside HMRC, if you do supply any of my Personal Data to any Third Party, please supply me with a copy of my Personal Data share and a copy of the Third Parties written request.
Please confirm in writing that you received and will be acting upon the instructions set out in this letter to ensure your compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998)
Comment: Further research needed on how this relates to Universal Credit, particularly in-work conditionality.
Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)