Freedom of Information requests

Various Freedom of Information requests have been made recently to the Department for Work and Pensions about the mandatory imposition of work experience. This process has produced copies of the guidance issued by the DWP, including a recent revision removing instructions to JCP staff to mandate claimants. There is a full set of documents covering mandatory experience here and a list of related FoI requests and their returns at .

I’ve also posted this information to the Social Policy discussion list at JISCmail, because it relates to a long-standing debate in Social Policy. The Social Policy Association published guidelines over two years ago which stated that researchers have to obtain the consent of participants, and allow them to withdraw from the research. I think the guidelines are misconceived, and FoI requests are an illustration of why I think so. First, some information is public, not private; it is not under the control of the people who happen to know it. Second, Social Policy has an important critical function, and that does not depend on the consent of government. Those who are interested in the arguments might want to look at my piece on “Research without Consent” in Social Research Update or the criticism of the SPA guidelines that Dave Byrne and I made in Policy World.

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