- 7 Oct 2019
Date received: 24 Jul 2019
Date responded: 4 Oct 2019
Provide the Gateway Review Agency Health-check, as referenced in the Social Security Scotland Executive Advisory Body April 2019 agenda.
I have concluded that a different decision should be substituted.
I enclose a further copy of the Agency Gateway Health-check Review report which provides more information than our original response.
In reaching my conclusion I considered the exemptions which were applied and the public interest tests which were conducted, where applicable, to the information being withheld.
I found the information which was exempted under Section 38(1)(b), Personal Information, was withheld appropriately, for the reasons given in our initial response. The exemption, in this case, is absolute and not subject to a public interest test.
In considering the information withheld under section 30(b)(i) and section 30(b)(ii) in our initial response, I have determined these exemptions do not apply to any of the information in the report as the information would neither inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice nor contains any sufficiently free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.
However, after careful consideration of the information, I have also concluded that an exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) is applicable to some of this information. Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to effectively deliver the Social Security programme, as it would lead to unwarranted uncertainty for clients and an increase in enquiries which would require resources to be redirected to address. Information of such a nature must be considered in the context of the support we deliver to some of the most vulnerable in society. Information which raises speculative scenarios that have yet to take shape and may or may not materialise, for consideration by management, must be managed carefully as if it were released without an indication of likelihood, it would cause unwarranted uncertainty for clients. This would constitute substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in terms of the exemption.
This exemption is subject to the public interest test. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, I have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption and withholding the information. I have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. I recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the process of delivering the Social Security Programme and ensuring that the Scottish Government is able to conduct this aspect of its business effectively.
I accept the redactions made in the original response did not make clear which exemptions were applied to each redaction. I have therefore clearly marked the exemption applied to each redaction in the revised copy provided.
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