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Sunday, 12 August 2012

WCA - "innocent" questions - I think not.

This is a follow on from the posting “Surreptitious Assumptions made by Atos/DWP in a WCA – BEWARE” on Friday, 11 November 2011.
As DWP was being so unhelpful & obstructive, I had to take this FoI request to the ICO, which at least resulted in a more thorough search for the information, if not the answer I was looking for.
The 800m/supermarket suggestion is quoted in the Atos produced, DWP approved “WCA Handbook” as being a probable rather than definitive interpretation, but it offers no guidance whatsoever on what a HCP should do to clarify the situation.  I know from firsthand experience that they sometimes do not bother and as at the time I was unaware of these underhand practices, it did not occur to me to volunteer clarification.
None of the other phrases appear in a recorded form which might just reflect the limitations of the FoI legislation, rather than the fact that they are in use.  DWP tries very carefully to constructs its responses within the legislation but giving away as little as possible.  They therefore have not denounced the principle that obviously underlies this request, which speaks for itself – avoiding an issue can be as informative as addressing it!
I can prove that DWP Decision Makers are encouraged to use their imagination in an uncontrolled manner rather than exercise caution over the risk to a person’s health, again from firsthand experience.
So we all need to continue to be cautious to the point of paranoia when answering seeming innocent questions during a WCA.  It won’t go down well, but it is perfectly in order to clarify the relevance of the questions that are being asked and provide as much clarification as possible even if not requested.  Having a dog, doesn’t mean that YOU take it for a walk every day, so be on your guard.

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