Modelling behind published economic impact of halving disability employment gap: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/03719
Date received: 12 December 2018 
Date responded: 21 December 2018
Information requested
  1. a copy of the model and any required underlying data used to produce the results of economic impact modelling of halving the disability employment gap, along with any documents or guidance detailing its operation and/or the methodology used;
  2. a copy of any interactive version of the model (such as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet) held by the Scottish Government which can be used to manipulate its assumptions and inputs in order to model different disability employment, economic growth, and labour market scenarios; and
  3. a copy of any graph or chart produced by the Scottish Government, or a third-party on its behalf, which illustrates over time the likelihood of it achieving its goal to halve the disability employment gap or otherwise improve employment rates of disabled people, and, in particular, any chart which shows a range of outcomes as a range of varying labour market and economic conditions.
  4. If the Scottish Government holds information regarding this matter which I have not requested above but which you believe may be helpful to me in order to understand the method by which it has arrived at its assumptions about the economic advantages brought about by increased labour market representation of disabled people, I would be grateful if you would provide a copy or direct me to any publicly available resources.

1.   While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government is unable to provide some of the information you have requested (requests 1 & 2) because an exemption(s) under section 33(1)(b) Commercial Interests of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below. However, please see the following link for a published overview of the key features of the Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model used by the Scottish Government to produce the economic impact estimate referred to:

2.   The Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested (request 3).  The reasons why we don’t have the information are explained below.

3.   For request 4 please see the following response:

In A Fairer Scotland for Disabeld People: employment action plan  the published finding that halving the disability employment gap could increase Scotland’s economic output (GDP) by up to 3.5% in real terms was produced by a Computable General Equilibrium model of the Scottish economy.

As part of the analysis, a labour market supply shock of an additional 121,000 people working in Scotland was introduced to estimate the potential economic impact of halving the disability employment gap. At the time of modelling this was the expected increase in the employment level of disabled people required to meet the target (now 130,000).

This modelling treats all labour as homogenous. Therefore no assumptions are made about the productivity levels, working patterns or sector breakdown of disabled people moving into work other than that they follow the overall breakdown of the economy specified in the model. The wording of the results were chosen to reflect this, with “could increase Scotland’s annual economic output (GDP) by up to 3.5% in real terms”. The long run impact (25 years) of this shock was estimated to be a 3.5% increase in real terms (£3,900m) –accounting for the effect of inflation.

Reasons for not providing information


An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test – requests 1 & 2.

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested (requests 1 & 2). Section 33: Commercial Interests and the economy, (1)(b) Substantial prejudice to commercial interests. Information is exempt under this section if it would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of anyone by being disclosed. This applies because although the Scottish Government owns the CGE model used to produce the analysis in question, the intellectual property rights of the model remain the ownership of the model designer, The Fraser of Allander Institute of Strathclyde University, Glasgow.

Providing a copy of the CGE model to a 3rd party would prejudice their commercial interests as the Fraser of Allander provide economic consultancy services to clients using the original version of the model. Disclosing this information would likely give competitors an advantage in any future tendering exercises, prejudicing the Fraser of Allander Institute’s ability to submit competitive tenders and harming 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 some public interest in releasing this model as it could be used to verify the results of the Scottish Government’s published analysis or conduct similar analysis. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in not releasing information that would prejudice the commercial interests of one of the Scottish Government’s stakeholders, The Fraser of Allander Institute.

The Scottish Government does not have the information – request 3

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for under request 3 because as outlined in a Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: employment action plan[1], our analysis shows the disability employment gap to be largely structural in nature – it has remained of similar size throughout the economic cycle.

We recognise that achieving our ambition to halve the disability employment gap will be influenced by a wide range of factors and drivers - including a societal shift in culture. Attribution of the different drivers to halving the disability employment gap cannot be undertaken in an analytically robust way based upon current data and available evidence. However, based upon similar types of structural change in the labour market and the increases in the employment rate of disabled people required to half the disability employment gap, we consider our target to be ambitious.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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