We follow law. Law is created by acts, statutes, statutory instruments, and case law. All of that is complex, and so sometimes the government will create an easy to follow guide. These guides are not the law, but if you follow them you won't go far wrong. One example is the "Highway Code" - this a short and simple guide to law for all road users. Another example would be the Code of Practice to the Mental Health Act. The code of practice isn't the law, but if you follow the code of practice you're not going to get into too much trouble.
The people who work for the DWP who look at the details of my claim and then apply the law to my case are called "Decision Makers". The government has created a handy guide to all the various benefit laws just for decision making. These guides are available online. They're PDFs, and they have one topic to a page and lots of whitespace and big margins. I want you to think of a number. How many pages are in the Decision Makers Guide?
Here's the Decision Makers Guide. We need to look at each volume, and then count the pages for the listed files.
There are over 14,000 (forteen thousand) pages in the Decision Makers Guide
There are many rules. The rules are strictly enforced. It's not possible to know what the rules are. This causes considerable anxiety.
Someone claiming benefits makes an agreement to take part in certain activity each week in order to continue receiving benefit. This is called a "Claimant committment". The committment is the core feature of conditionality for UC. The committment is a living document, and it is available online. The requirements will change.
Claimants are told they have to regularly check their committment. This means they should check it maybe once per day. You can imagine that a person with anxiety may check it considerably more often, maybe once every thrity minutes Page 24.
The committment has a section titled "Work I can do", another titled "What I'll do" (both of these contain mandatory activity) and a third titled "extra activities". page 23. Extra activities are optional. Some people are confused by this and they think everything is mandatory.
A work coach may feel that a benefit claimant is not yet ready for the full conditionality of job searching. As a kindness the work coach may introduce more "extra activities" (which are optional) and fewer "what I'll do" activities (which are compulsory). The work coach may feel that engaging in healthcare will move the claimant on, and so may suggest attending healthcare appointments as a voluntary activity.
Telling someone to visit a doctor, and not being clear that this is a suggestion that can be ignored, means that some patients feel compelled to visit a doctor. (Or another health care professional). This has obvious ethical implications. page 23
Read this. If you're busy read the introduction. Universal Credit - Natural Migration. (Migration here is a bit of jargon that means "moved from one benefit to a different benefit". It has nothing to do with the movement of people.)
Rule 10 of the The Tribunal Procedure (first=tier tribunal) (SOCIAL ENTITLEMENT CHAMBER) RULES 2008 S.I. 2008 No. 2685(L. 13) says that the tribunal has no power to award costs. This means there's no disadvantage for the DWP bringing incoherent cases to tribunal, and the claimant cannot recover costs. Some judges think this is a bad thing
A patient who claims benefit asks you to write an evidence letter. You read their notes, you read advice about writing these letters. You craft a nice letter of evidence. You send it it. Do you think DWP reads it? Do you think DWP believes you? Read the section about Alice in this article.