Publication - FOI/EIR release

Consultation on Disability Assistance - drafting plan and timeline: FOI release

Published: 1 May 2019

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

Published:
1 May 2019
Consultation on Disability Assistance - drafting plan and timeline: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00779
Date received: 18 Mar 2019
Date responded: 26 Apr 2019
Information requested

You asked for: The drafting plan and timeline used to devise Consultation on Disability Assistance.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some the information you have requested because exemptions under sections 29(1)(a), 38(1)(b) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to that information. In addition some of the information requested is not held by the Scottish Government.

Reasons for not providing information
Section 29(1)(a) – Formulation or Development of Government Policy

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 and development of the Scottish Government’s policy on Disability Assistance.

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 Disability Assistance 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.

Section 30(b)(ii) – Free and Frank Exchange of Views

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on Disability Assistance will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken.

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 allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government’s policy position on Disability Assistance until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, 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 policy and decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 38(1)(b) – Third Party Data

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some the information you have requested. This exemption relates to the disclosure of third party data held by Scottish Government. 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.

Section 17(1) – Information not held

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Please note that where exemptions apply we have marked documents with ‘(redacted)’ with the aim of ensuring that we have released all information held that is not covered by the exemptions outlined in this letter.

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.

FOI-19-00779 Information released

11 page PDF
454.2 kB

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