Working the examination: Timing of approaches to third parties
CCROs will often obtain information from third parties before passing the case to you for examination. This will occur routinely when child care costs are involved, as they carry out a high level of checks with child care providers. The results of any third party contacts will be documented in the SIP.
You should not make any approaches to third parties before giving the claimant(s) the opportunity of answering your questions and obtaining the third party information themselves. You will usually want information from third parties so you can corroborate information or evidence the claimant(s) has provided, and the best way to obtain this will often be through the claimant.
For instance, if you need to check the child care arrangements, the claimant may offer to arrange a meeting between him/herself, the child care provider and you. Or if you need confirmation of the hours a claimant works, a three way meeting with the claimant and employer may be the quickest way of making progress. Provided you are satisfied there is no likelihood of collusion, you should agree to any such informal arrangements for obtaining the information.
You should always write to third parties informally in the first place using the standard letter template TCC19 if you are contacting an employer or TCC19a if you are contacting a childcare provider. You should tell the claimant(s) you intend to contact the third party for information, but you should not send a copy of the letter to the claimant(s).