- 25 Jun 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/01509
Date received: 23 May 2018
Date responded: 21 June 2018
Internal Scottish Government correspondence using the phrase 'Scotland-specific economic shock' from the Fiscal Framework of the Scotland Act 2016 since January 2016 and for any briefing given to ministers containing the phrase 'Scotland-specific economic shock' since January 2016
Attached is a copy of some of the information you requested.
Some of the information you have requested is available from: Scottish Government Fifth Annual Report on the Implementation and Operation of Part 3 (Financial Provisions) of the Scotland Act 2012: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00516889.pdf
Social Security (Scotland) Bill Financial Memorandum: http://www.parliament.scot/Social%20Security%20(Scotland)%20Bill/SPBill18FMS052017.pdf
Scottish Government Fifth Annual Report on the Implementation and Operation of Part 3 (Financial Provisions) of the Scotland Act 2012: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00534618.pdf
Scotland's Fiscal Outlook: The Scottish Government's Five Year Financial Strategy: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00535972.pdf
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.
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 exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy), 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and section 30 b(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
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 development of the Scottish Government's policy on resource borrowing.
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 resource borrowing 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.
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) and under section 30 b(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the development of the policy on resource borrowing will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future.
These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on resource borrowing. 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 decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House