What is casework and how do we deal with it?
Casework covers a range of issues or complaints we may take up on your behalf.
We know the issues you need help with might be sensitive or causing you distress. My support staff aim to deal with you in a fair and understanding way. After reviewing your case we may ask that you come in to the Oldham office, or to an advice session in your local area to take the case further.
How do we prioritise casework?
Urgent casework (Dealt with as soon as practically possible). We define ‘Urgent casework’ as time critical. An example of this would include impending homelessness cases.
Standard casework (1-10 working days). We define ‘Standard casework’ as important casework that isn’t time sensitive. An example of this could be a longstanding housing complaint.
An example of casework and parliamentary activity last year (2016)
Who can we help?
My office will deal with cases from all residents in the constituency regardless of how you voted, if you didn’t vote at all and even if you are not on the electoral register.
We can only accept casework from constituents living in Chadderton, Oldham West and Royton.
If you or the person you are acting on behalf of does not reside in another constituency, for instance if they are of no fixed abode but with clear links to the constituency (as the last formal address or parents still living in the area) or if the person is currently in prison but lived in the constituency immediately before being sentence we aim to apply common sense.
We cannot act on behalf of residents in another constituency. You should always make contact with your own Member of Parliament.
What issues can we deal with?
- DWP (Department for Work and Pensions)
- HMRC (Her Majesties Revenue and Customs)
- Home Office
- Foreign Office
- Department of Health
- Department for Education
What issues can’t we usually deal with?
If you have a problem which isn’t the responsibility of central government, such as your local council you should contact the local councillor elected to that body. If you have tried to seek support without success we may be able to look into the matter for you.
There are some things my office cannot do, these include;
- Give legal advice or interfere with ongoing legal proceedings
- Offer consumer or contract advice
- Offer debt advice or advice on financial services
- Become involved in disputes with other individuals
Requests to sign or witness official documents
Requests to sign or witness official documents can take up to 1-2 weeks (Excluding Recess).This is primarily because I have to be present in person and my office will prioritise casework and advice surgeries first.
I will only sign passports or official documents if I know you personally in line with the guidance issued with the application form.
It isn’t enough to ‘know of you’ and MPs will usually apply a high bar of personal knowledge of the constituent before agreeing to sign official documents.
Due to time constraints you should always endeavour to seek another authorised person to countersign official documents.
No charge will ever be made or accepted for signing official documents, nor should any other elected person.
Campaigns and lobbying requests
MPs are often lobbied to support campaigns or contribute to surveys and events. We aim to respond to these within 10 days. These include requests to;
- sign petitions
- sign an EDM (Early Day Motion)
- become a member of a APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group)
- attend an event or reception
- take part in a survey
- contribute to a debate in Parliament (including committee debates)
I do not usually agree to general requests to support campaigns or causes unless there is a direct link to my constituency or my area of expertise. This is because I like to fully research and understand the issue before committing, and to do this properly can be time consuming. When I do commit to support a campaign you are assured of a meaningful commitment from me.
Outside of general requests I have areas of interests where I invest time to support campaigning. These currently include;
- Economic development, skills and job creation in Oldham and Greater Manchester
- Devolution of power and resources away from Whitehall to local communities
- Local government finance and fair funding
- Campaigning against public sector cuts
- Fair pay and workers’ rights
Freedom of Information requests (FOI)
Members of Parliament are not organisations and therefore not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.
Data Protection Act Subject Data Access
Members of Parliament are Data Managers under the Data Protection Act and you have a right to access information we hold about you. Where some Data Managers may charge we will not levy a fee.
Tips to help us help you quicker
- If you seeking public information or are seeking to access government services for the first time (such as advice on applying for a passport or visa) you can find a lot of information on www.gov.uk
- Only send the email once in the first instance. You should receive an automated response on the same day. If you have not received a personal response within 10 workings days please resend your email or a copy of your letter.
- We deal with all casework in the order it arrives regardless of how it arrives. We accept letters, direct emails and emails from third party sites such as Writetothem.com
- Make sure you have provided your full home address, we cannot progress your case without it.
- If you are acting on behalf of someone else, we need their permission to discuss the case with you. If you already have this in writing please provide it.
- If you are seeking interventions in parliamentary debates please give as much notice as possible.
- Don’t be tempted to send a campaign or lobbying template letter. If you care enough about the issue to write in then please tell us how it affects you personally. In return you’ll get a personalised response.
- If you do use template letters we will usually have a template reply we will send back to you. This is to help administer the large volume of correspondence and allows more time to be spent on casework or correspondence requiring a personalised reply.
- We do not accept casework through social media. This is to protect your privacy and to ensure we keep proper records of all communication.
- Please don’t be rude or abusive. Treat me and my office as you would expect to be treated yourself.