July 1st 2015

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Tory plans: “benefits should be removed” if ‘treatment’ refused?

During the 2015 election campaign David Cameron commissioned Dame Carol Black to undertake a rapid review of making engagement with a “treatment plan” mandatory for people on sickness benefits or “face the threat of a reduction in benefits”, referencing drug and alcohol addiction, obesity and stress.

Requirements for consent to treatment* within an ethical framework should mean actual  treatment cannot be made compulsory, but whether that would still mean benefits could be reduced for declining treatment is not clear.

However, the DWP could revive plans to impose schemes akin to a “treatment plan”, specifically making psychocrat “education and motivational**schemes mandatory.

Similar mandatory treatment plans, involving “a doctor or registered nurse”, did get proposed under the 2009 Welfare Reform Bill, for drug use, then in 2010 the coalition government decided:

“In light of today’s report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), Ministers have decided not to take forward previously proposed Welfare Reform Drug Recovery pilots”
17 June 2010

More recently the DWP has proposed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services be co-located in 350 Jobcentres, alongside a DWP contract tender for digital Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): https://refutedarchive.wordpress.com/workfare/psychocrats/ A key question concerns the interplay between DWP commissioned ‘therapeutic’ schemes and the role of the NHS, Councils, Mental Health and IAPT services making referrals.

The mandatory elements of the drug use pilots included:

  • Mandatory referral to Substance Related Assessments (SRAs) and a Treatment Awareness Programme with a specialist drug treatment provider for PDUs on JSA and ESA who are not already in treatment.
  • The power for the criminal justice system to supply data to aid both the identification of PDUs not in treatment, and the take-up of in-treatment support for those who are.
  • The power to refer to the mandatory SRAs where a Jobcentre Plus adviser has ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion that problem drug use is a barrier to work’. Should claimants in this group refuse to attend two successive SRAs they can be required to take one or more drugs tests.
  • The power to impose a mandatory rehabilitation plan where the adviser is satisfied that drug use is a barrier to work, requires treatment but the customer has yet to engage with treatment services.

*The DWP makes liberal use of the word “treatment” in many of it’s pilot and established back to work schemes, meaning those mandated are considered by the DWP as part of a ‘treatment’ group. Compulsory treatment of a medical or psychological nature would engage professional ethics and codes of conduct of bodies such as the BMA, BASW, GMC, BPS, HCPC, NMC, and BACP, let alone that compulsory Tory punchbag known as the Human Rights Act.

BACP opposes mandatory #CBT as part of UK #workfare in job centres

**A lack of ‘motivation‘ is a key criteria for being mandated to 6 months of full time unpaid Community Work Placements (CWP) workfare, in ‘charities’, councils and businesses.

Latest DWP guidance on voluntary work and expenses (JSA and ESA) + UC

The DWP has disclosed it’s internal guidance on volunteering, specifically:

The disclosure letter also says:

“Further information can be found in the Decision Makers Guide … Sections which may be relevant to your enquiry can be found in chapter 13 paragraph 13931, chapter 20 paragraph 20467, chapter 26 paragraph 26183 and chapter 28 paragraph 28388.

As you will see from the enclosed information, only expenses which are reasonably incurred whilst carrying out voluntary work can be accepted.” FoI ref: 2373 DWP Central FOI Team 12 June 2015  https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/volunteering_whilst_on_benefits#incoming-663958

See also:

Voluntary Work: Remember under JSA and Universal Credit you can do it 35hrs full-time

Let’s keep volunteering voluntary

Can DWP providers force you to use Universal Jobmatch clones like myworksearch.co.uk and www.avantajobs.com?

Universal Jobmatch (UJ) and consent

It is self-evident that Universal Jobmatch (UJ) can be and is used to facilitate benefit sanctions and total  loss of benefits. This as such is the principle reason the Information Commissioners Office requires that the DWP must obtain users permission (consent)
to access their UJ account.

Clones of UJ

Even so, compulsory DWP Work Programme (WP) and Community Workfare Placement (CWP) workfare providers have created clones of UJ, to undertake supervised Jobsearch.

Against this background, suppliers of these clones and DWP providers have a vested interest not to explicitly inform WP and CWP conscripted participants,  that like UJ, it seems apparent that use and therefore registration with these clones is voluntary. This can be said to be particularly true as these clones are set up so that DWP provider and hence DWP access to user accounts personal data is switched on by default, without any user option or inbuilt safeguard to stop this access in any way.

With this level of default access the DWP and DWP providers are free to use the personal data within these clones to arrange benefit sanctions that can last up to 3 years, as well as completely end entitlement to benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Examples of Jobmatch clones

MyWorkSearch
“You can also log in and check the extent to which any individual has ­ or has not ­ been learning how to look for work and actively job-searching. You can interact with jobseekers, monitoring tasks as well as suggesting jobs and activities and providing assistance. Most importantly, using the MyWorkSearch data, you can focus your help where it is really needed.” [all of which can be used to facilitate benefit sanctions]
http://www.myworksearch.co.uk/housing-associations/

http://www.avantajobs.com
“Work Programme participants are not mandated to use http://www.avantajobs.com and can therefore choose not to use this site…. If a participant wishes to stop using the website they can do so….where personal data is loaded onto http://www.avantajobs.com DWP remains the data controller…” [owner]
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/181920/response/443194/attach/html/3/5028%20Response.pdf.html
From: DWP Central FoI Team  – 24 October 2011
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/22/avantajobs/

Tips

If asked to register and use, by DWP providers, websites like http://www.avantajobs.com and MyWorkSearch, ask for the request to be put in writing and tell them to also say in writing what would happen if you did not register or use them and do ask them to write who would have access to the personal data uploaded or created within any account, explicitly asking them to say in any written response whether the DWP and DWP providers would have access.

Resources

Universal Jobmatch: Why does DWP need your permission (consent) to access your account?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says the reason why the DWP needs user permission to access their Universal Jobmatch (UJ) account is because it could be used to have an adverse* and unfair effect on their benefit claims, through benefit sanctions and or loss of entitlement.

“While the DWP is already the data controller for the information, it would be considered ‘unfair’ for the UJM information to be used to consider the customer’s JSA (or similar benefit) claim without the prior permission of the customer being obtained by the DWP” [emphasis added]
ICO 15 May 2015

*Principle 1 of the Data Protection Act requires the DWP, it’s contractors and sub-contractors to process personal data fairly and lawfully and “not use the data in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned“.

Resources

Universal Jobmatch and your ‘public CV’: what can an employer see?

Further to a discussion on twitter, the DWP has released information about what an employer can see when they conduct a jobseeker search of ‘public CVs’ on Universal Jobmatch (UJ). The DWP say that employers with Jobmatch accounts cannot see any personal data when they conduct Jobseeker searchs and the full content of a CV is only available to an employer when the Jobseeker applies for a job through UJ, either by sending their CV direct to the employer or through UJ.

“…when an employer conducts a jobseeker search on Universal Jobmatch the search function does not search jobseekers CV’s but instead matches jobseekers to vacancy criteria that an employer has placed on Universal Jobmatch.  The match is based on information that a jobseeker has recorded within their profile on Universal Jobmatch system, for example, skills, location etc”
DWP Central FoI Team – 03/06/2015

Confusion has been caused by the DWP’s use of the term “public CV”, which understandably leads people to believe that employers, if not the public, would have easy access to the full content of a CV.

It seems highly probable that the DWP’s original plan was that UJ users CVs would have had more open access, alongside DWP staff having access to users account. However, as the processing of personal data on UJ can lead directly to benefit sanctions, this came into conflict with Principle 1 of the Data Protection Act, part of which requires that personal data is not processed “in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned“. Consequently DWP access to a UJ users account needs permission (consent) and use of the term “public CV” is misleading and inappropriate.

This need to ensure personal data is processed fairly and lawfully, under Principle 1, may go some way to explain why DWP compulsory back to work scheme providers do not appear to mandate participants to use UJ privacy invasive benefit sanction clones like myworksearch.co.uk and avantajobs.com.

Resources: