Publication - FOI/EIR release

Social Security Scotland - DWP case transfer strategy correspondence: FOI release

Published: 3 Jun 2019

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

Published:
3 Jun 2019
Social Security Scotland - DWP case transfer strategy correspondence: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00456
Date received: 13 Feb 2019
Date responded: 31 May 2019
Information requested

You asked for:

Any documents relating to plans for recruiting Social Security Scotland staff to carry out face-to-face assessments on the agency's behalf.

Any documents relating to the training program for these in-house staff.

Any documents outlining the strategy for the local delivery of Social Security Scotland's benefits.

Any documents detailing the transitional protections, or preparations for transitional protections, that will be available for claimants moving onto Social Security Scotland benefits.

Response

As explained in the holding reply issued on 5 March 2019, it has taken longer than expected to pull together the information you requested.

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 section(s) s.25(1) (otherwise accessible) and s.29(1)(a) (policy formulation) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in Annex A to this letter.

Reasons for not providing information - Annex A
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

"Any documents relating to plans for recruiting Social Security Scotland staff to carry out face-to-face assessments on the agency's behalf."

"Any documents relating to the training program for these in-house staff."

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy) of FOISA applies to all of the information you have requested because it relates to the formulation of Scottish Government Disability and Carers Benefits policy.

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 discussions on recruitment and training 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.

"Any documents outlining the strategy for the local delivery of Social Security Scotland's benefits."

All of the information you have requested is available from the Social security agency in Scotland: outline business case https://www.gov.scot/publications/outline-business-case-agency-social-security-scotland/pages/1/

"Any documents detailing the transitional protections, or preparations for transitional protections, that will be available for claimants moving onto Social Security Scotland benefits"

The recently published Scottish Government Position Paper on Case Transfer states “clients will receive the same amount for the Scottish benefit as they received for the corresponding UK benefit.”

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 of the Scottish Government’s policy on transitional protection and the mechanisms by which transitional protection will be implemented, are still being formulated.

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 how transitional protection will be implemented 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.

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 Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG