- 10 Dec 2019
Date received: 2 Oct 2019
Date responded: 5 Dec 2019
“Under FOISA, please provide copies of the three Social Security Programme Gateway 0 (Strategic Assessment) reviews (dated September 2015, March 2016, and November 2017) and the Agency Gateway Review Health check (dated May 2018).”
We have now given some further consideration to the information previously withheld in this case and have determined that some information previously withheld under section 28(1) and section 30(b)(i) can now be disclosed.
I have also determined that an exemption under section 29(1) and section 30(b)(ii) did not apply in this case and can therefore confirm that we have withdrawn our reliance on these exemptions.
I have enclosed revised copies of the four documents set out in your request above.
I am satisfied that an exemption under sections 28(1) (UK relations) continues to apply to a small amount of information redacted from paragraphs 3.17, 4.12 and 4.28 of the March 2016 - Social Security Programme Gateway 0 Review because this information, if released would substantially prejudice our relationship with UK Government.
I am also satisfied that an exemption under section 30(b)(i) continues to apply to some of the information as indicated in the latest versions of the four documents, as does the application of section 38(1)(b) to personal data, for the reasons set out in our response to your initial request and review.
Finally, I have determined that an exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA applies to a small amount of information in the Agency Gateway Review Health check (dated May 2018). This information has been redacted from paragraphs 4.1.4, 4.2.3, 4.3.4, 4.3.15, 4.3.16, and 4.3.17. The reason why this exemption applies is provided in the annex to this letter.
Annex - Reasons for not providing information
Exemptions under s.30(c)
This exemption applies because disclosure would prejudice substantially, the effective conduct of public affairs. The information if released would disclose the Scottish Government’s ongoing accommodation needs, plans for future benefit delivery, resourcing and budgetary considerations, and the structuring of operations.
Disclosing detailed information in relation to our accommodation needs would undermine current property negotiations by providing insights into our negotiating position. This would in turn impact substantially on our ability to secure accommodation which meets our needs at a cost which provides the best value for public money.
Disclosing information on future benefit delivery, resourcing and budgets, and structuring of operations, would undermine the effective conduct of the Programme as it would result in this information being placed into the public domain before being announced to Parliament and, in the case of operational structures, before this had been agreed and announced within the Directorate.
Public Interest Test
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 we do not believe it would be in the public interest to release information which sets out our accommodation needs and constraints because it would be likely to undermine the Scottish Government’s negotiating position – and therefore its ability to secure the best possible outcome and value for money for the public purse. Releasing this information would significant disadvantage the Scottish Government in seeking the best possible outcome for securing appropriate accommodation to support the effective delivery of the Programme.
Nor do we believe it is in the public interest to set out Programme financial plans before they have been announced to Parliament or the Social Security Committee, or to make statements about proposed operational structures when they remain unresolved and therefore have not been announced within the Directorate. This would undermine the effective management of government business and its oversight by Parliament. It would also undermine effective conduct of public business to release information about aspects of staff operations when there is no settled decision and could needlessly raise concerns among staff about their roles.
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 Andrews House