The DWP’s plan to force banks to carry out surveillance on claimants’ accounts has fallen at almost the last hurdle, as a result of the prime minister’s decision to call a general election.

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill had passed all its stages in the House of Commons and got as far as the committee stage in the House of Lords.  It was virtually certain to become law in the near future.

The new law would have obliged banks to pass on information to the DWP relating to whether claimants’ accounts had gone over the capital limit and whether claimants had been using their account abroad for an extended period.  It would have affected almost nine million people.

More worryingly still, the law was not limited just to banks.  It would have allowed the DWP to order any organisation to hand over any information it required or face a large fine.  Bank surveillance was just the thin end of a very large wedge.

The UK Information Commissioner had criticised the wording of the new law as being too loose, over 40 organisations had condemned the proposals and petitions against it had gathered over 100,000 signatures.

Nonetheless, the government was determined to push the bill through, regardless of the level of opposition.

But, whilst many other bills were passed in a hurry in the last days of this parliament, there was sufficient opposition in the House of Lords to prevent the bank surveillance bill being nodded through.

So, in the end it was not protestors who stopped the DWP getting new snooping powers, it was prime minister Rishi Sunak.

It will still be open to a new government to revive some or all of the bill, however.

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    Alex M · 8 days ago
    Does anyone know if they are proceeding with their plans to get info from airlines for people going abroad?
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    Ani · 9 days ago
    Wow, clever software they got there. Why the heck haven't they been using it to suss out non-dom tax evaders and their ilk?
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    Elizabeth · 9 days ago
    This is one of the specific topics which we can include when grilling our prospective candidates before voting. 
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    2Deborah · 9 days ago
    Just what is the maximum Capital permitted?
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    JJ · 12 days ago
    This is slightly off topic but I don't have a clue about where Labour stands on the PIP reforms, where Labour stands on the tightening of the Work Capability Assessment. Is it a case of wait until after the election in the event of a Labour victory?


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      Ani · 9 days ago
      @WorkshyLayabout JJ and Workshylayabout:

      It's worse than that. Labour were the architects of the welfare reforms, side by side with Tories during the early Cameron years. 
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      WorkshyLayabout · 12 days ago
      @JJ Tories and Labour are two halves of the same arse. The DWP says it will toughen up WCAs; Labour stays quiet. The DWP says it will start snooping on our bank accounts; Labour stays quiet. The DWP says it will give those on PIP vouchers instead of money. Labour stays quiet. Either Labour is letting the Tories dig their own grave or Labour agrees with the DWP's plans. When it comes to benefits claimants being screwed over, best assume that Tories and Labour are no different. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Ani · 9 days ago
      @ABC Hi ABC,
      It explains the mechanism by which the DWP would monitor the bank accounts of benefits recipients using software that would alert them if the recipients' savings exceeded the limit, for example, or if they were essentially living abroad. So the DWP wouldn't be poking around, checking people's grocery expenses and clothing choices! They'd have no direct access to bank account info.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Rosemary · 10 days ago
      @ABC You have to tap on the link and the page comes up with whatever it's about, so just tap the link with your finger and the message that's in purple will come up on your screen 
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      robbie · 11 days ago
      @ABC No, ABC, but don't worry, it's not you, it's them. Soneone stayed up late writing that one, but was still behind the curve 😂
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Nicky · 14 days ago
    Hi there again I was wondering if anyone is concerned regardless if it becomes law or not that if any of the reports are accurate or not surely it would be giving any government the opportunity to say, we have the evidence to prove that lots of people are over the limit and it gives the government a big brush to paint every one  the  same colour just a thought regards Nicky 
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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    nick · 15 days ago
    Hi there all i for myself am conflicted about this law I claim benefits after a accident at work and to be totally honest I have never been out of my overdraft of £3000 since I had my accident at work I have managed to bring two children up just on the very minimum of benefits (no help from former employer)so I was totally shocked when I saw the article with people with huge amounts of money in their accounts I can’t work it out best regards n
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      wibblum · 15 days ago
      @nick Again, I'm not entirely sure why anyone is treating that article as 'evidence' or proof of anything, other than the DWP's ability to manipulate a fully-compliant media in order to attempt to shut down debate with supposed 'inarguable facts' that are based on their own dubious statistics.
      Further reading reveals that the article originates from what appears to be a small London-centric online journal whose political affiliation is less than clear. What *is* clear however is that the article is little more than a 'filler' piece that has been cobbled-together with the minimum of actual journalistic effort, and the author's repeated use of the phrase 'they say' does not amount to any kind of empirical evidence.
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    Will I Nevva · 16 days ago
    I saw an article that said they’d tested this proposal and found 60,000 claimants (on UC, ESA or Pension Credit) with £50k on average in their accounts - and that was at just one bank!!! The capital limit for UC and ESA is £16,000. So I can see this legislation being revived down the line
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Old Mother · 13 days ago
      @Will I Nevva Data accuracy. 
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      WorkshyLayabout · 13 days ago
      @Will I Nevva The DWP “piloted” their scheme with two banks, then will “pilot” it with two more banks, then with another two until they have snooped their way through all the top fifteen banks/building societies. Not only spying on the accounts of benefits claimants, but also the accounts of parents, partners, offspring, unrelated people living in the same house as well as low paid workers who are on benefits to top up a low wage. The DWP’s ultimate goal is to pry into everyone’s bank account (clearly politicians and royalty will be the privileged exceptions). That’s gonna shock a lot of daily moral readers who are in favour of this snooping (because they don’t realise if the bill passes they will be affected too). If only they took the time to read the proposed bill…

      Want to know why someone on benefits can have £50k? The benefits go into a joint account along with the wages of a working partner with most of the savings being from wages, but according to the DWP the benefit claimant’s bank account is over the capital limit. It is the deliberate use of including irrelevant data to skew results in order to justify the DWP’s goal of cutting the benefits bill.

      Running a “pilot” to test an illegal bill that has not been passed into law - who would think the DWP could stoop to such low levels? Insert your own sarcasm. It doesn't matter if the bill is or isn't passed, our accounts will still be looked at.

      The other issue is jealous people with a shortage consciousness who think that because he/she has only 50p in the bank and cannot save, others on benefits should not be able to have savings. The mindset of “someone is in a better situation than I am, I don’t like it and I want that person to be in my worse situation.”
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      wibblum · 14 days ago
      @Will I Nevva "Now you’ve seen the article exists and that I’m not lying, you’re moving the goalposts and disputing the statistics."  

      I'm doing nothing of the kind. As I stated in another response elsewhere in this thread, I didn't express any doubt that the article concerned actually *existed*, I (quite reasonably, I think) asked for a link to that source because I was already prepared to dispute those statistics, and so that other readers of this thread could judge that article's worth for themselves.

      I'm afraid that I'm just naturally inclined to distrust negative data that is gathered and circulated by a clearly self-interested party (like the DWP) that is later just baldly reproduced elsewhere as factual evidence without any further examination or analysis.

      I imagine that there are some claimants who do 'play the system' for their own financial gain by not declaring the true extent of their capital savings, and of course that is wrong. But I certainly don't believe there's anything like as many as 63,000 of them, each with £50k to spare, banking with a single financial service.

      Let's remember that this information has most probably been proactively released to the media by the DWP, it's not down to anyone's individual dogged investigative efforts to uncover it (although interestingly, the Manchester Evening News piece is presented slightly more fairly and they're also usually more impartial towards benefit claimants in their editorial pieces).

      All told, it's yet another carefully-timed and fairly blatant attempt by the DWP to sow suspicion and resentment in wider society against *all* benefit claimants.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Will I Nevva · 14 days ago
      @wibblum Well, I’m not attacking here, I want to continue the discussion… but my observation is that you just seem determined to disbelieve everything. Now you’ve seen the article exists and that I’m not lying, you’re moving the goalposts and disputing the statistics. The thing is, it looks like even if the DWP came round to your place and showed the actual bank data on the accounts with £50k, you’d find reason to doubt that too. 

      I think we have to get away from that and ask is there an issue with flagging accounts where there’s more than the capital limit (£16k for UC and ESA) or where transactions show someone’s been abroad for over a month. If they’re not actually peering at people’s statements, what’s the issue? People shouldn’t be claiming low income benefits if they have £50k in the bank. There’s about 50p in mine most of the time and I have to make meals that last 3 days or just have cereal. I can’t see how people on benefits can save up £50k but IF THEY ARE then it’s wrong to pretend that those savings don’t exist and claim UC on top! 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      wibblum · 14 days ago
      @Anon Fine. As I hope I've made clear now, I didn't doubt that such articles exist. But I do doubt that they are accurate, or even truthful. I requested that you link to them (more for your benefit in the debate than mine, to be honest) and you've provided those links, so thank you.

      However, it doesn't matter how many articles you link to when they're all quite obviously adapted from the same dedicated DWP press release. If proves nothing about the validity or veracity of the statistics quoted when the only source of them, the DWP itself, has been proven time and again to be totally untrustworthy and biased against claimants. They are anything *but* impartial and independent.

      I think that's the third time now that I've made that exact same point, and I think I've been very clear about it, and you've not yet shown me anything to convince me otherwise (not that I'm actually demanding that you do).

      It just seems like the usual very obvious (but deeply insidious) DWP propaganda to me, designed to whip up public discrimination and instil fear in and/or divide the disabled community.

      Seems to be working.


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    Hmmm · 17 days ago
    Why is this the only website with this news? I literally can not find another website with this information. 
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    Sandra Bowes-Rennox · 17 days ago
    Well we'll see won't we.
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    J. · 18 days ago
    Not optimistic on this, not least as Rachel Reeves has today refused to rule out the tories PIP "reforms" (abolition). 

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    Nathan · 18 days ago
    Do we believe that labour will push this bill through when in power? given it is against EU law to spy on citizens bank accounts, we know labours stance is to align back with the EU standards so at some point in the near future we rejoin the EU
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Jon · 10 days ago
      @Nathan The obvious answer if you want privacy on your bank accounts is to open it in a foreign jurisdiction beyond the reach of the UK government. If it is true that the EU do not permit bank snooping then perhaps an EU bank. However I suspect they do allow it probably citing tax evasion. Osbourne and Cameron had their money in Panama when they were in power and so did their comrade canoe man.
      If it’s OK for our Lord, masters and betters then why not for you? 
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      Sandra Bowes-Rennox · 17 days ago
      @Rainbow I certainly hope so.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Rainbow · 18 days ago
      @Nathan Agreed, think thankfully we've heard the end of it. Besides it would be embarrassing to start the whole charade from scratch.

      Labours not perfect and not completely the labour we used to know and rely on. I am however reasonably confident most the sick ideas like this bill, the pip ideas and to a smaller extent the Uc rush job will be discarded entirely for the first two and slowed and monitored sensibly for the latter.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    wibblum · 18 days ago
    And this is just one reason why those agitating for the abolishment of the 'elitist' House Of Lords should be careful of what they wish for. The Lords is often our last, and sometimes only, line of defence against a government that only works to serve its own interests.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Db123 · 9 days ago
      @wibblum So you believe that the bank monitoring will go ahead under labour ?
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      pollenpath · 17 days ago
      @Anon Wouldn't surprise me if this iteration of Labour thinks the Tories proposed reforms don't go far enough 🙄
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      wibblum · 17 days ago
      @Anon I can assure you, I have no faith whatsoever in Starmer's Labour riding to anyone's rescue but as unpalatable as they are, hopefully they're still preferable to the tories. I also understand the parliamentary process just fine. I don't dispute any of your other points (as my other response to 'Anon' makes more clear - not sure if that's you or not) and I 'm not claiming that the bill has just gone away, either. Nor do I claim that the HoL is a bastion of compassion - a brief glance at the voting records of (for example) Michelle Mone or Karren Brady, or even Andrew Lloyd Webber(!), soon puts that notion to bed. Still, it was only the opposition in The Lords that has halted this bill for now.
      Honestly, I believe the best we can hope for by the end of all this  is a delay, and a few amendments to the bill. But without that opposition in The Lords, we wouldn't even have gotten that.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Anon · 17 days ago
      @wibblum It had progressed all the way through the HOL to the final stage, despite opposition from some pressure groups and a handful of MP's.
      It would have been passed and become legislation.
      When the bill was voted on in the HOC it had a lot of support from both Tories and Labour, that's why it got as far as the HOL.
      Labour have been complaining recently about the Tories planned welfare reform, not because they opposed the plans but because they say the Tories have stolen their plans. 
      If Labour get in, expect much of the same.

    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      lesley · 17 days ago
      @wibblum Thanks wibblum totally agree with you.

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    Anon · 19 days ago
    The majority of Labour MPs showed full support for the bill in the HOC. If they win the election I think it will still become law.
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    phil · 19 days ago
    Excellent news !!! Good old Rishi !!!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Kara · 17 days ago
      @phil Yet his father in law owns Infosys - a company that does "digital  health monitoring" just after he announces changes in the PIP process. - my old city boss would call that insider trading.  We had to be aware of it at all levels yet the gov doesn't. As my boss said, they own the legal process and the courts so I'd say an investigation into public money going to private contractors and individuals connected to the cabinet, since Covid, is urgently needed. 
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      Sandra Bowes-Rennox · 17 days ago
      @phil Nothing good about it but maybe a lawsuit and now there's an investigation into the treatment of disabled people.
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    GB62 · 19 days ago
    This is good news, for now at least.  The amount of stress and worry that this bill has caused me, and probably many others, has been huge.  I am still terrified, but we have a reprieve.  I did email the Liz Kendall (shadow secretary of state for works & pensions), saying how deeply worried I was about this bill, but have had no reply.  Still might be worth more of us doing this though.  This bill would have been a huge invasion of privacy and surely would have breached our privacy rights - Human Rights Act Article 8.  For those of us with long term physical and mental health problems, we are so vulnerable to the government, as benefits are often our only source of income.  Holding my breath to see what the next government does. 
      
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      CaroA · 19 days ago
      @GB62 Thanks GB62 I too have a sense of relief at the moment from this bill being junked and just the thought of a new government 
      at least means there's a bit of a reprieve from all of this for now.  
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