The DWP stand accused of having taken a lesson from ‘kidnappers’ in order to verify universal credit claimants’ addresses, by requiring them to take multiple photos of themselves, including one with them holding a copy of the current day’s local paper.
The Public Interest Law Centre have tweeted an extract from a claimant’s UC online account and suggested that ‘Point 5 is what kidnappers do, which seems appropriate’ .
The extract itself is a list of 5 demands the claimant must meet in order to have their UC claim considered:
Further to today’s phone call. I now require you to provide the following information. If you don’t provide all of the information that we’ve requested your claim will be closed.
1. A photo of your ID card or passport open on the photo page.
2. . A photo of your ID card or passport open on the photo page held next to your face.
3. A photo of you stood outside the front door (open behind you) of the property you live at. Ask someone to take this from the street so that the whole property can be seen.
4. A photo of you stood next to your street sign with you [sic] right hand holding it. Ask someone to take this photo from a few metres away so that the background can be clearly seen.
5. A photo of you holding your local newspaper for the area you live (not a national tabloid newspaper). This should be dated the same day you upload the photo.
As other posters point out there are numerous problems with this approach including: many areas don’t have a local paper anymore, you can’t put your hand on a street sign if it’s halfway up a building, you can’t take a photo of yourself in the front door of your property from the street if you live halfway up a block of flats, you may not know anyone who could take a photo of you and may be unwilling to hand your phone over to strangers.
The bizarre series of instruction appears to be a way of trying to verify a claimant’s identity and address without having them attend an interview.
But many would argue that copies of items such as utility bills and tenancy agreements are as reliable as a series of images that could quite possibly be photoshopped.
We’d be interested to hear from readers who have received unusual requests from the DWP. You can post a comment below the line or use our feedback form.