Well over 100,000 people have signed petitions objecting to legislation, currently in the House of Lords, which will allow the DWP to snoop on claimants’ bank accounts.  In addition, the UK Information Commissioner has challenged the way the law has been drafted.

Benefits and Work readers who are unhappy at the plans may wish to sign one or more of the petitions.  Especially as, the more smoothly these laws are passed, the more emboldened the DWP will be to move onto laws giving it powers of arrest, search and seizure and the right to impose massive fines without going anywhere near a court.

The petition on the Organise site headed “Prevent the DWP from scrutinising disabled people’s bank accounts” has attracted almost 80,000 signatures.

Stop the Government from spying on all of our bank accounts” on the 38 Degrees site has over 33,000 signatures.

Do not introduce regular bank account checks for benefit claimants” on the parliament website has just under 16,000 signatures so far.

John Edwards, the UK Information Commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has written to the Times suggesting that the current wording of the bill too loose.  This will not prevent it passing into law, but it may give claimants some additional protections.

Edwards wrote:

“Proposed powers to allow the government to inspect people’s bank accounts to reduce benefit fraud raise questions as to society’s appetite for potentially intrusive measures to reduce a problem that costs the country billions of pounds.

 “As is so often the case, the answer lies in proportionality. The law must be sufficiently clear to give people an adequate indication of the conditions and circumstances in which the authorities can use such measures. And there must be safeguards to protect people.

 “Key to assessing proportionality are questions such as ‘Will the proposed intervention work?’, ‘Will it produce high numbers of false positives?’ and ‘Are there more or equally effective mechanisms available that do not involve the same level of intrusion?’”

 “As the data regulator, my office continues to work with the Department for Work and Pensions on this, in particular on whether the proposal is sufficiently tightly drafted.”

The DWP snuck in the new powers as amendments to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.  There was no consultation, no opportunity for discussion and no chance to explore alternatives.

If they are successful in getting the current measures through with little opposition, it seems likely that the government will use the same tactics to allow the DWP to acquire the power to arrest claimants, search homes, seize property and impose huge fines without ever going to court.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Vee · 1 days ago
    State Penso is NOT a benefit~!  Pensioners with just their sztate pension and no benefits ought never to have their bank accountt inspected this is morfally and ethically WRONG
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Andy · 5 hours ago
      @Vee I think it's because there are rules around claiming the state pension, such as pensioners who retire abroad, which must be declared 
      Also, people who only have a state pension often do get other benefits which are means tested e.g. council tax reduction. Housing benefit and pension credit.

       
       
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    Peter · 7 days ago
    The DWP should be made to seek permission from a Judge before looking into bank accounts. It's an erosion of our privacy and freedom.
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    Cheryl · 8 days ago
    The DWP, aren't competent at their job. I mean look how many mistakes they make with peoples money and it's had to pay thousands of back pay to claimants..
    Talk about invasion and breach of privacy.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ash6f · 8 days ago
    A lot of the problem with signing these is one they are not readily available out there 
    2 people are worried about signing incase the dwp gets tgere name from the petition and 3 I always thought that they giveremnt only looked at petitions that where linked to parliament website and that one only has 16 thousand signatures so may be we should all be signing that one and maybe tgere should be more publicity around them making people know that one day tgey will be claiming some form of benefit even if its only state pension its still a benefit
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Vee · 1 days ago
      @Ash6f Staqte pension is NOT a benefit.  I paid in for it all my working life from age 15 till 62.5
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      pp · 8 days ago
      @Ash6f Yes, I agree.The government petition hasn't got alot of signatures because people are reluctant to sign as they think with all the powers DWP claim to have, they will be able to trace it back to whoever has signed it. People need to be aware this will affect everyone at some point, even if they're not claiming any benefits at the moment, it will affect them in the future when they claim their state pension.

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    Joe · 10 days ago
    Open Rights are also campaigning against this
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      pp · 10 days ago
      @Joe Come on people. Start signing and sharing this petition. This one says it only needs 5000  signatures  and already has nearly 2000 signatures, so will be achievable.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    pp · 14 days ago
    The government response to the petition is a load of bull, I'm not convinced and I don't trust them. They have downplayed in their response, to stop people making alot of noise about this and hoping to get this bill passed quickly and quietly. The bill is quite long and there was alot of amendments and additions snuck in at the last minute. In their response, they haven't addressed, the power to arrest people, seize property and impose huge fines. Powers to include other people linked to claiments bank accounts, like ex partners, children even landlords. Monitor how people are spending their money. These are just a few not mentioned in their response. Their saying it would only impact a few people whose account is flagged up for fraud. If they going to monitor how claimants are spending their money, surely that means all claiments will be affected. They have invested alot of money and time with the expensive software system, hiring extra staff, to make this happen, they will make sure the bill gets passed at any cost. Algorithms makes mistakes, as we all know from the post office scandel, and innocent people will be hauled up and interrogated.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    denby · 14 days ago
    "Although down by 10% in 2022-23, £8.3bn was overpaid in fraud and error last year in the benefit system" 
    But how much was fraud, and how much was error? Without this information we cannot know whether "estimated saving to the exchequer of up to £600m by 2028/29 " if achieved, would be most of the fraud, a little of the fraud or anywhere in between. And it would be easy for DWP to try to infer that most of it was fraud, even though THEY are responsible for the error portion, not the claimants.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    MrFibro · 14 days ago
    I have just signed the petition, but the petitions numbers are very low ..19,597, that's a long way of the 100,000 signatures needed.

    C'mon people sigh the petition for heavens sake.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    pp · 16 days ago
    The Government has given a response to the Government petition. It's not reassuring....
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    M And S Jeffrey · 20 days ago
    As parents and carers we already suffer for our children, and are impacted by a lifetime of worry, now to be threatened to be criminals or unfairly sanctioned? The very number of successfully appealed claims demonstrates the systems are flawed and biased.
    It’s the massive foreign fraudsters who occasionally get caught where resources should be concentrated. 
    Taking a million to task does not send the same message as 10 x 100,000!
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    Triggs · 22 days ago
    When they introduced that we had to inform them of going on holiday I rang DWP to clarify the rules and mention I was going away for 3 weeks. My PIP claim was terminated as of the day my holiday ended. I rang and asked why and was told I was a temporary resident and that I could make a new claim. I pointed out that I had always lived in UK except for military service and I was a pensioner who had only been on holiday for less than the 4 weeks permitted and the 12 weeks in total for the year.  They kept repeating I could reapply. I know as a pensioner I would not be able to!
    I had just had a soft touch review and been awarded ongoing up to 10 years. The stress this caused and the time on phone calls was unimaginable! I made them retract in writing that my review was back to my one awarded as they kept sending letter without a date on!
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    J. Blackhurst · 22 days ago
    I've had similar to this had my benefit stopped I also got housing benefit was called into local fraud section at the job centre they had already gone into my bank accounts and said I was hiding a bank accounts I didn't know what they were talking about gave me account numbers with my solicitor insistent.  I phone my bank up they were not my accounts, one was my ex's account which over 10+ years ago was joint account and I took my name off the others were my nieces bank account which I seconded for them to open for their savings when they were tiny. They then stopped my benefit for several years until I got a reassessment and they had back date my benefits to they stop date but DWP they said they couldnt back date that far and they gave me three months back date which I had to fight again meanwhile I was made homeless lost all my furniture and was moving from one sofa to an other even slept in a garage. In the end we won thanks to my solicitor. The DWP should not have any powers because they cannot be TRUSTED ever they ruin lives.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bee Pee · 19 days ago
      @J. Blackhurst Wow that's terrible. Very scary people the DWP, when thye've got their claws into you. Was that a local solicitor or did s/he take on clients nationwide? Would you be allowed to give his/her name out on this site? Planning ahead, just in case.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog mother · 22 days ago
      @J. Blackhurst Absolutely vile! That's disgusting to say the least. Bless you. X
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ani · 22 days ago
    Where are the petition links?
    Thanks.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Joe · 20 days ago
      @MrFibro Click on the text in bold in the article and it will link you to them.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 21 days ago
      @Ani Yeh where are the links i need to add my name to it.  Please put links up ta.
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    earthmum · 22 days ago
    The worst things about the DWP service model are:
    1. denying they received documentation - so claimants are forced to pay for recorded delivery to have a record of arrival at DWP offices.
    2. not having enough personnel to answer the telephone resulting in unacceptably long waiting times on the telephone and possibly costing the claimant on their telephone bills.
    Jane
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    earthmum · 22 days ago
    Every privatised government department is working for the WEF towards the implementation of the bankers beloved CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), which will introduce far reaching powers over our lives in the form of a Chinese Credit system. Communism on steroids with totalitarian control where the government can impose their green agenda on us. Blocking payments for things you want to buy that they do not consider green enough or do not generate enough carbon credits or you have thought or said the wrong things.
    They must not be allowed to impose these police powers through DWP because we will become like USSR under Bolshevik rule.
    There will be no freedoms only oppression, no cash freedom only bankers telling you how to spend your money. 
    The DWP have a history of being sneaky and difficult, causing untold misery for many claimants with legitimate claims.
    I contracted ME 29 or more years ago, and they have made me fight for every bit of help. Nowadays thanks to our angels at Benefits and Work life is a lot easier even if it is hard work filling in forms.
    Thank you Steve Donnison and Holiday Whitehead, and anyone else who may be involved in helping those who the government would rather ignore.

    regards
    Jane
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    Pauline Greene · 22 days ago
    Quite frankly I can’t think of anything worse I have had a nightmare with DWP over the years forms sent in by recorded delivery neither received. Or acknowledged, lengthy waits on the phone sometimes being. Cut off just as you think you’ve got through.  The assessments for DLA being done by staff who aren’t qualified I’ve just had a medical assessment done over the phone and was only asked about one specific problem of several because apparently this is now how they do them ! I await the results should be interesting to say the least! It’s become harder and harder and now to add insult to injury they want to have more power someone in government needs to take a long hard look at this  maybe they should start looking at mps bank accounts then ! Accountability should be for all not the least vunerable in society we are always targeted hopefully I will die soon so I don’t have to deal with this humiliation anymore o never asked to be ill the stress of dealing with DWP i can honestly say has made my stress levels go through the roof however you do get one or two people that do treat you like a human being so they are.not all bad but the majority seem to dehumanise us and I personally think they get paid to fail is ! No more power it’s
    Abused enough already ! 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kerry · 22 days ago
    The DWP stopped my UC claim and ignored a tribunal ruling to do a mandatory reconciliation. They wanted my bank accounts also .I am a carer with a disabled child and I have no money from UC 
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    Derek Smith · 22 days ago
    Makes for all forms of corrupt practices with what appears no recourse
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    Bob · 22 days ago
    I find it funny how they keep dropping the amount you can have in savings before they say you can't claim most benefits not long ago was £16000 then £10.000 now it's £6.000 and now wanna have the power to check your accounts on people who lives can change quickly because of medical conditions and they might need money to help them I can understand it if they suspect there criminal or fraudulent activity involved but seems it's everyone which I feel is wrong 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bee Pee · 19 days ago
      @Mike agreed
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Mike · 21 days ago
      @Bob It hasn't changed - your benefit starts getting reduced at £6000 then has a sliding scale to £16000, where you get no benefits at all.  

      For me, the problem is that this hasn't changed - it should rise in line with inflation.  £6000 is nothing these days, where you could easily have to spend all of that in one month.  Car insurance, MOT bills, broken boiler, washing machine etc.  You could quite literally find all your savings gone if you had a bit of bad luck. 

      And more to the point, why should we be penalised for having savings?  If I don't spend much and save my money, why should I get less than someone who spends everything?  

      It's a horrible system designed to keep the poor poor, with no way out. 
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