- 25 Sep 2018
Date received: 27 August 2018
Date responded: 21 September 2018
2. I would like to see copies of any equivalent user agreements between the Scottish Ministers and City of Edinburgh Council that included how the Scottish Government would reimburse City of Edinburgh Council and/or the local election returning officer for City of Edinburgh Council local elections for the costs of electronic counting in the 2012 and 2017 local elections.
3. I would like to see copies of the decisions by Scottish Ministers or Officials acting with delegated authority authorising the reimbursing to local authorities and/or to local authority returning officers by the Scottish Government of their costs related to electronic counting in the 2007 local elections, the 2012 local elections and the 2017 local elections.
4. I would like to see copies of any associated information in relation to the decisions of Scottish Ministers/Officials referred to in (3) above explaining or justifying the decision about whether the Government would be reimbursing the local authorities or the returning officers and whether the government would be reimbursing them inclusive or exclusive of the VAT on the contractor's invoices.
5. I would like to know under what power (i.e. specific statutory powers or common law powers) the Government was acting when authorising the reimbursements referred to in 3 above.”
1. A copy of the 2007 User Agreement for City of Edinburgh Council is attached as annex A.
2. A copy of the 2012 Minute of Agreement for City of Edinburgh Council is attached as annex B.
In 2017 the services contract for e-counting was between individual local authorities and CGI IT UK Ltd and therefore the Scottish Government does not hold a copy of that contract. However a copy of the template for the services contract, which was made available by the Scottish Government for local authority use, was supplied to you under cover of my letter of 8 May 2018 (our ref FoI 18/01175) in response to your request in relation to Aberdeen City Council.
3. & 4. You requested copies of the decisions by Scottish Ministers or officials authorising the reimbursements to local authorities of the costs of e-counting for the 2007, 2012 and 2017 local elections. Individual payments to local authorities were not subject to specific authorisation and were made through the Scottish Government’s accounting system. However I attach copies of the following submissions which provided Ministers with information on the overall costs of the e-counting projects:
Submission dated 19 May 2006 annex D
Submission dated September 2010 annex E
Submission dated 29 August 2014 annex F
I also attach further correspondence from officials to City of Edinburgh Council about the council’s individual payments as follows:
Letter dated October 2007 to City of Edinburgh Council annex G
Letter dated 24 May 2012 to all Returning Officers annex H
Letters dated 3 February and 29 May 2017 to City of Edinburgh Council annex I
I cannot find any evidence of specific advice on the treatment of VAT being requested or provided but I assume that, on the basis of HMRC guidance VATGPB8680, this was not considered necessary.
5. You also ask about the powers of the Scottish Government to provide the costs of e-counting to local authorities. The Executive Note to the Scottish Local Government Elections Order 2007 (annex J) specifically states that the additional costs of the introduction of e-counting will be met by the (then) Scottish Executive. The reference to the Scotland Office is because the poll for Scottish Parliament and local government elections fell on the same day in 2007 and the Scottish Executive and the Scotland Office agreed to share the costs of e-counting at the polls. The Scottish Parliament was aware of the Scottish Executive’s intention to cover local authority costs when approving the 2007 Order.
In addition, the Scottish Parliament agrees the annual Budget Acts which give authority for expenditure on “funding to support delivery of local government elections”.
Taken together, these documents confirm that the Scottish parliament was aware of the policy intention to re-fund local authorities for the costs of e-counting and that they annually authorise any necessary expenditure to support that policy.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, we have had to make some redactions because exemptions under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene data protection provisions. Redaction of email addresses of recipients and copy recipients have been made as appropriate.
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House