Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scottish Growth Scheme various questions: FOI release

Published: 12 Sep 2019

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

Published:
12 Sep 2019
Scottish Growth Scheme various questions: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/01921
Date received: 14 Aug 2019
Date responded: 10 Sep 2019
Information requested

1. Any briefings and/or memos to cabinet ministers regarding the Scottish Growth Scheme and its current status and future. I would like anything produced within the last 12 months.
2. Any briefings/memos or other correspondence that pertains to the future of the Scottish Growth Scheme when it’s initial three year period of operation comes to an end.
3. How much has the Scottish Growth Scheme facilitated in loans and funding since its inception and detailed by each financial year of its operation.
4. A breakdown of growth scheme funding to businesses listed by location and registered office.

Response

In relation to question 1:
Please find enclosed most of the information you requested - eleven monthly progress reports; and one letter to the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee on the Scottish Growth Scheme - albeit with some elements redacted.
In relation to question 2:
Please find enclosed most of the information you requested – two ministerial submissions albeit with some elements redacted.
In relation to questions 3 & 4:
Since its inception in June 2017 the Scottish Growth Scheme has invested £135m (£134,988,251), spend by financial year as follows; £49.5m from June 2017 to 31 March 2018; £65.3m from 1 April 20198 to 31 March 2019: and £20.2m from 1 April 2019 to 31 July 2019.
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested - a breakdown of growth scheme funding to businesses listed by location and registered office because this information is not provided to us by the Fund Managers who deliver the services under the Scottish Growth Scheme. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have 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 exemptions under section(s) of FOISA applies to that information:
 S.17(1) (information not held)
 s.29(1)(a) formulation or development of Scottish Government policy
 s.30(b)(i) and (ii) free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views
 s.38(1)(b) personal information
The reasons why these exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.

ANNEX
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exemption applies
Section 17(1) of FOISA (information not held) requires the Scottish Government to notify you if it does not have the information you requested - a breakdown of growth scheme funding to businesses listed by location and registered office. The Scottish Government does not hold this information. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test
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 development of the Scottish Government’s policy on the Scottish Growth Scheme. 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-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies. 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 the Scottish Growth Scheme 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 development.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) and (ii) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the proposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the Scottish Growth Scheme will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice 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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position on the Scottish Growth Scheme. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy 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 making process, which would not be in the public interest.
An exemption applies
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. the names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. 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.

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Contact

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Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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