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Meetings between DWP and Unum: Response to FoI request

January 28, 2012

This is the response to my (admittedly badly worded) FoI request for the connections between DWP employees and representatives of Unum. Despite my poor wording, the response contained some interesting information. I reproduce the whole response below, highlighting particularly interesting points. On monday I’ll also write up a report looking at how government policy doesn’t tally with its own research.

DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Annex A 
e-mail: freedom-of-information
-[email address]
Our Ref: VTR 236

27 January 2012
Annex A 
Dear Mr Jones,

Thank you for the following Freedom of Information request, which was received on 20
January 2012.

I would be grateful if you could provide me with information stating how many meetings
between employees of Unum (previously UnumProvident) and employees of the DWP have occurred over the course of the relationship between these two bodies (since 1995).

Any additional information about these meetings (dates, times, places, agendas etc.) would also be gratefully received.

The department does not have a central database recording meeting details. As such to
comply fully with your request would entail contacting approximately 100,000 officials who are employed by the Department of Work and Pensions, as well as all Ministers and Special
Advisers, to find details of meetings that could relate to your enquiry. We estimate that the cost of complying with your request would exceed the appropriate limit. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations and for central Government it is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3½ working days in determining whether the Department holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply with your request and will not be processing your request further. However, if you wish to limit the scope of your query to a particular business area or subject matter, I may be able to provide the requested information.

The Department does have record of two meetings with Unum officials since May 2010. On 18 October 2010 a UNUM representative – as part of a delegation from UK Rehabilitation Council – met with the Minister for Welfare Reform and Department officials. 

In addition, on 14 February 2011, UNUM representatives met with Departmental officials involved in the independent review of sickness absence in Great Britain. 

Since October 2009 the Department has published a list of meetings held between Ministers and outside organisations. This can be accessed at

The Department also has records of the two working groups which were set up in 2006 to review the Personal Capability Assessment for Incapacity Benefit. One of these groups
reviewed the physical descriptors within the assessment; the other looked at the descriptors
which assessed mental function. The Department consults widely with stakeholders and sources of public and private sector expertise, to ensure that its policies are evidence-based.

Therefore these groups featured individuals from a wide range of relevant professional backgrounds. I can confirm that there was a representative from Unum Provident on each of the groups. 

On the physical descriptor working group, of the seven meetings of which we have a record, there were four meetings which the Unum Provident representative definitely did not attend.

On the mental function working group, of the five meetings of which we have a record, the Unum Provident representative was not recorded as being absent from any of them.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number
Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2012 10:25 am

    Reblogged this on ATOS REGISTER OF SHAME.

  2. January 28, 2012 12:22 pm


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