Publication - FOI/EIR release

Meetings with People Plus, Maximus and Remploy: FOI release

Published: 27 Mar 2018

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
27 Mar 2018
Meetings with People Plus, Maximus and Remploy: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00428
Date received: 9 February 2018
Date responded: 20 March 2018

Information requested

Details of meetings, including location and attendees, and relevant correspondence between Roseanna Cunningham and PeoplePlus (A4e), Maximus and Remploy held between 21 November 2014 and 18 May 2016. The same detail is also requested for the period 18 May 2016 and 09 February 2018 between Jamie Hepburn and PeoplePlus (A4e), Maximus and Remploy. You also requested documents, including contracts, relating to the tender by PeoplePlus and Remploy (Maximus), for services related to the Fair Start Scotland work programme between January 2015 and December 2017.

Response

I attach a copy of some of the information you requested.

Some of the information you have requested is available from: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/?publicationTypes=transparency_data

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under sections 29 (1)(a), 30 (b)(i), 33 (1)(b) (commercial interests) and 38 (1)(b) of FOISA applies to that information.

The reason why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

Section 25(1) - Information otherwise available.

An exemption under section 25(1) of FOISA (Information otherwise available) applies to some of the information requested because the information has already been made available on the Scottish Government website.

This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

Section 29(1)(a) – formulation or development of government policy.

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation or development of the Scottish Government's policy on employability services in Scotland.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on employability services in Scotland will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

Section 30(b)(i) – free and frank provision of advice [in relation to Cabinet/ Ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation/development]

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Scottish Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on matters relating to the introduction and implementation of employability services in Scotland will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a changing and evolving policy landscape.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Scottish Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's policy position on employability services within Scotland and, until the Government as a whole can adopt informed policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 33 (1)(b) – Commercial Interests.

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Remploy, Maximus and PeoplePlus. Disclosing this information would be likely to give competitors of these companies advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice their ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which enter into Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

Section 38(1)(b) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie list of attendees/names of individuals attending meetings, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG