|Making a complaint about UK Government services|
|The Parliamentary Ombudsman can carry out independent investigations into complaints about government departments and other public organisations. We would normally expect that the organisation you are complaining about has had the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
This form is to help us decide if we can look at your complaint. We need specific information from you so that we can deal with your complaint as quickly as possible. If we feel that we do not understand your complaint, then we may return the form to you to be completed before we take any action on your complaint.
To help us consider your complaint, we need to see all the evidence that you have about it – in particular letters to and from the organisation you are complaining about. We are happy to copy originals and return them to you.
You will need an MP to sign Section 9 of this form.
If you are unable to fill in the form or you need any advice, you can contact our helpline on 0345 015 4033.
The helpline is open from 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.
|SECTION 1: About you
If you are complaining on behalf of someone else then they must complete Section 7 of this form if they are able to.
|1. About you:
How and when would you prefer to be contacted? LETTER __________________________________________________________________
Do you have any special requirements for us to communicate with you? We will make adjustments for you if we can.
Are you being supported by an advocacy organisation or other representative?
We’ll keep in touch with you in whichever way works best for you. However, we do need to make you aware that with email there is always a small risk of messages being intercepted. If this is your preferred way for us to contact you please let us know by ticking one of the boxes below. As a precaution, and for added peace of mind, we will also password protect any sensitive documents we send you.
To confirm you are content for us to email you, please tick this box
If you do not want us to correspond with you by email, please tick this box
|2. Is the complaint on behalf of someone else? NO
If you have answered YES to this question, please also complete questions 3 and 4.
If you have answered NO to this question, please go to question 5.
|3. Who are you complaining on behalf of:
Telephone number: _________________________________________________
What is your relationship to them? _____________________________________
If the person has died, please tell us the date of death here:
|4. Please explain why the person who has suffered as a result of the problem is not making the complaint. We would normally expect a person to make their own complaint if they are able to. However, you can represent someone to make a complaint if you have their consent.
|SECTION 2: Information about the organisation that you are complaining about
You can contact us before filling in this form if you are not sure whether your complaint is about an organisation we can consider. Our helpline number is 0345 015 4033.
|5. Which organisation(s) are you complaining about?
INDEPENDENT CASE EXAMINER
|SECTION 3: Your complaint
We need to know what happened and why you are unhappy with the response to your complaint. Please attach additional sheets of paper if you need more room to set out your complaint. Please do not just say ‘see attached’ and provide copies of previous correspondence. If the organisation has not addressed all of the issues raised in your complaint, then we may decide that there is further work for the organisation to do before we look at your concerns.
Work Programme provider:
1st tier subcontractor:
2nd tier subcontractor:
I disagree with the findings of the Independent Case Examiner’s investigation into my treatment by my Work Programme provider. In a Decision dated 19 June 2014 the Independent Case Examiner dealt with three separate complaints that I made, none of which was upheld:
Despite 2 and 3 being two separate complaints that I submitted to ICE on 6 March 2014 and 15 March 2014 respectively, they were allocated the same reference number.
Number 4 was not accepted as a complaint by ICE. I made the complaint on 17 April 2014 and it was based on evidence that I obtained in response to a Subject Access Request concening an earlier complaint. The complaint was instead treated as a request for a review of the earlier decision  and allocated the same reference number.
A friend has assisted me to put full details of my 4 complaints online (correspondence, supporting evidence and ICE decisions). You can find the relevant information here:
Complaint 1 – icecomplaint.wordpress.com
Complaint 2 – icecomplaint3.wordpress.com
Complaint 3 – icecomplaint2.wordpress.com
Complaint 4 – icecomplaint4.wordpress.com
The Independent Case Examiner found it was not unreasonable for Work Programme provider to conduct telephone interviews with me against my express wishes . I provided evidence to ICE confirming that:
A. I did not wish to participate in telephone conversations with the Work Programme provider (subcontractors), and;
B. the Work Programme provider (subcontractors) continued to try and make me participate in telephone conversations AFTER I told them I did not wish to.
In a letter dated 19 June 2013 (Mandatory Activity Notification) I was instructed to participate in a telephone conversation and threatened with a possible cut to my benefit if I failed to do so. Contrary to the view of the Independent Case Examiner, WP provider did not have the legal authority to compel me to participate in telephone conversations. Article 8 of the EHCR guarantees the right to respect for private life, family life, home and correspondence. Additionally, I submitted evidence confirming that WP provider (subcontractor) were aware of my poor telephone signal: a copy of a record made by WP provider (subcontractor) detailing how during a telephone conversation with me the telephone repeatedly disconnected.
The Independent Case Examiner found that it was not unreasonable for 2nd tier subcontractor to demand that I signed something in order for me to reclaim travelling expenses that I incurred in attending a Work Programme advisor interview. In support of my complaint I submitted details of an FOI response from the DWP Central Freedom of Information Team dated 2nd September 2013 ref. VTR 3940 (3798):
“There is no requirement to sign any documents presented by the Provider and no sanction would be applied to a claimant who refuses to do so.”
It is my view that it would have been reasonable for 2nd tier subcontractor to have paid my travelling expenses without requiring my signature.
The Independent Case Examiner held that 2nd tier subcontractor acted correctly by sending me a letter threatening that my benefits could be cut if I failed to send them details of my job search evidence (Mandatory Activity Notification aka MAN). It is my view that the ICE erred by not considering the sixth data protection principle:
“Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under this Act”
Details of the employers that I contacted seeking employment is personal information. Contrary to the claim of the ICE, I was under no statutory obligation to provide such information to 2nd tier subcontractor.
In my initial letter of complaint to ICE on the matter dated 15 March 2014 I quoted part of a response from the DWP Central Freedom of Information Team dated 10th September 2013 (ref. VTR 4166):
“A Work Programme provider may ask you to provide evidence of your job search as part of their support they give you but they cannot mandate you to provide it and you will not be sanctioned if you do not provide it.”
ICE failed properly to consider the relevant evidence.
I feel that my letter to ICE dated 17 April 2014 should have been accepted as a fresh complaint and not as a request for a review of decision 2012.
8. Has the organisation responded to all the issues raised in your complaint?
If the answer to this question is NO, then please set out below the issues that have not been addressed.
YES – in the sense that : “You may have no new evidence but still disagree with my findings. You can ask a Member of Parliament to approach the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.”
9. How have you, or the person you represent, been affected by what happened?
WP provider caused me considerable distress by insisting that I participate in telephone conversations I did not have to; demanding that I send them personal information I was not required to and, on one occasion, by refusing to pay my travelling expenses. Additionally, I have incurred costs (mainly postage and a couple of bus journeys to obtain information) in bringing my complaints.
It must be borne in mind that WP provider (subcontractor) sent me MANs demanding that I participate in the activites referred to above (1 & 3). In a letter to ICE dated 9 February 2014 I argued that because no cut to my benefit was ever imposed this should not be interpreted as evidence of my not having suffered distress; and that the word could used in the wording of the MAN – Please note that if you do not undertake the activities required in this notification your benefits could be affected – could not be used to dismiss my claim that I suffered genuine distress.
In a Supreme Court Judgment given on 30 October 2013 (R v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) Lords Neuberger and Toulson commented (para. 64):
“For the individual, the discontinuance or threat of discontinuance of jobseeker’s allowance may self-evidently cause significant misery and suffering.” (my emphasis)
It is self-evident that WP provider by their actions caused me significant misery and suffering.
|SECTION 4: Outcome
Examples of remedies we regularly achieve are apologies, improvements to services, and financial payments.
|10. What outcome(s) do you want us to achieve for you?
I wish that you consider each of my 4 compIaints separately. I seek apologies from ICE for each failing that you identify in how my complaints were handled. In a letter to ICE dated 7 April 2014 I requested compensation (expenses and consolatory payments) in respect of complaints 2 (£12.30) & 3 (£19.40). For complaints 1 and 4 I will accept compensation of £9 for each (expenses and consolatory payments).
11. If you are seeking a financial remedy, what would be a reasonable sum of money to remedy your complaint?
Total sum of £49.70. ________________________________________________________________
|SECTION 5: When things happened
The law says that a complaint should be made to an MP within a year of you becoming aware there is a problem. We can extend this time limit but only where there are special circumstances.
Complaint 1 – Between November 2011 and 19 June 2013
Complaint 2 – 14 August 2013
Complaint 3 – January 2013
Complaint 4 – 9 May 2012
For complaints 1, 2 and 3 the ICE Decision is dated 19 June 2014. For complaint 4 the letter from ICE refusing to accept it as a complaint is dated 8th May 2014.
13. When were you aware there was a problem and when did you complain?
Complaint 1 – 26 June 2013 (1st letter of complaint to Work Programme provider)
Complaint 2 – 14 August 2013 (1st letter of complaint to Work Programme provider)
Complaint 3 – 24 November 2013 (1st letter of complaint to Work Programme provider)
Complaint 4 – 11 July 2013 (1st letter of complaint to Work Programme provider)
16 July 2014
16. If there was more than a year between you becoming aware of the problem and you contacting your MP, please explain why you did not complain to your MP earlier. It would be helpful if you could provide relevant dates of when key events happened. For example, the date of your initial complaint and dates of the organisation’s responses.
17. If there is a long time between any of the above dates, please explain what was happening.
|SECTION 6: Legal action
The law says that we must consider whether it is reasonable for you to pursue legal action to achieve the outcomes you are seeking.
We may not be able to look at your complaint: if you are already pursuing legal action; or are planning to take legal action; or if we consider that there is a course of legal action open to you that is reasonable for you to pursue.
|18. Are you taking, or planning to take, legal action on your complaint? If YES please give details.
|SECTION 7: Authorisation|
|I wish the Ombudsman to investigate my complaint and I consent to the obtaining of all relevant papers for the purposes of investigating a complaint under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.
If you are complaining on behalf of someone else, they must sign here if they are able to. If they are not able to, please explain why.
I give my consent for a complaint to be made on my behalf and for the Ombudsman to obtain all relevant papers for the purposes of investigating a complaint under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967. I understand that this may mean that my representative will be able to access personal information obtained for the investigation.
|SECTION 8: To the MP|
|This section must be completed by the person making the complaint
To (Name of MP) _____________________________________________________ MP
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Please consider the complaint described on this form and in any information attached.
Please complete section 9 and send this complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
|SECTION 9: From the MP to the Ombudsman|
|This section must be completed by the MP
To: The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP
Has sent me a complaint. Please consider this complaint and let me know the outcome.
Signature of MP: _________________________________________________________
Print name: _____________________________________________________________
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
London SW1P 4QP
Enquiries: 0345 015 4033
Fax: 0300 061 4000