- 22 Oct 2019
Date received: 18 Sep 2019
Date responded: 16 Oct 2019
Copies of successful applications to the Workplace Equality Fund (WEF) rounds one and two.
In your review request, you highlighted six specific areas for query or review as part of the full review you requested. These are:
- Why were only seven applications released in the response to the request?
- Can the Scottish Government confirm that all other applications from rounds one and two have been destroyed or not?
- Did redaction of whole applications result in withholding information?
- Why was section 5.5 redacted on all seven applications?
- Why has commercial interests been used as a basis for redaction?
- Can the Scottish Government now release all successful applications with only personal information redacted
I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.
In coming to this conclusion I have assured myself that, with the exception set out below, all available information held by the Scottish Government, and relevant to your initial enquiry, has been released to you.
Specifically, in response to items 1-3 and 6 of your review request – where relevant information had previously been held by the Scottish Government, but was and remains, unavailable because the Scottish Government no longer holds it – I can confirm the Scottish Government had no requirement to retain that information.
I can also confirm that the Scottish Government has subsequently taken the appropriate steps necessary to ensure that information it did hold was released to you, subject to the revision below.
This means that further WEF applications were not provided to you because that information was not available to the Scottish Government, rather than this information being available but withheld in full from you. It is not clear why the Scottish Government retained seven WEF applications but I can confirm these are the only applications retained. No applications have been withheld from you because they were fully redacted.
In relation to the information provided to you, and the extent to which exemptions have been applied, I have tested both the information which has been withheld and the reasons for the exemptions applied. I am satisfied that some revision of this is required and have set this out below.
As you are aware, two exemptions have been applied to the information released to you, in relation to (i) personal information and (ii) commercial interests. I would like to explain how those exemptions have been applied to help you understand more clearly where information has been withheld due to (i) personal information or (ii) commercial interests and to set out where I believe a revision to the application of these exemptions is necessary.
Redactions under s38(1)(b) have been applied primarily in the first section of the applications, but also where third party information is set out in sections 2,3, and 4. Your key concern in the review request was in respect of section 5 of the applications, which has been wholly reacted under s.33(1)(b). You have asked in the first instance why section 5.5 was wholly redacted and secondly, why a commercial interest exemption has been applied to a third sector grant application.
In respect of the overall redaction of section 5.5, I have reviewed this redaction and have decided that this information should not have been redacted. It is now attached for your information at Annex A of this letter.
In respect of applying a commercial interests exemption to a third party grant application, I am satisfied that the exemption has been correctly applied. The Workplace Equality Fund is a competitive scheme not limited to third sector applicants. While this is not a commercial procurement exercise, the competitive nature of the scheme, alongside the broad base of potential applicants requires that financial details of the application are treated as confidential.
However, on review, I find that in the case of six out of seven of the applications (the exception being Women Returners Ltd) the exemption that should have applied to the amount of the grant requested in 5.1 should be s 25(1) exemption because this information aligns with the grant ultimately awarded and is already in the public domain. This information can be found here: https://www.impactfundingpartners.com/sites/default/files/files/2019-04/WEF%20Funded%20Organisations.pdf
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