- 9 Jan 2020
Date received: 2 Dec 2019
Date responded: 3 Jan 2020
I request that a review of the decision FOI/19/02144 is conducted, as I am dissatisfied with the reasons given to withhold information.
I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for a review of the decision of FOI/19/02144 as you are dissatisfied with the reasons given to withhold information.
I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with one modification.
An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (Otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs) was applied to some of the information you requested. I have concluded this exemption was applied correctly and that the information withheld under this exemption should continue to be withheld with the exception of the timeline for our benefits, which was originally redacted from the document, “The Scottish Child Payment – Questions and Answers” and which has now been released.
It should be noted however, that the date stated in that timeline, from which Disability Assistance for Older People would be available, is factually inaccurate due to an error at the time. This should read 2021 and not “Early 2021”.
In regards to the remaining exemptions, I have concluded these were applied correctly and that information withheld under these exemptions should continue to be withheld.
As originally stated, disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the effective conduct of public affairs. The exemption recognises the substantial impact on effective public affairs disclosing this information would cause. In this case, the information relates to ongoing discussions where decisions have yet to be taken and information is not yet in the public domain.
If released, this would prompt a diversion of scarce delivery resource which would not be limited to Social Security Scotland’s call handlers but would have wider contingent impacts on the ongoing programme of work between our organisation and the Scottish Government’s Social Security Programme.
In addition, any impact on Social Security Scotland’s services must also be viewed in the context of the support we deliver to our large and growing base of clients, which includes some of the most vulnerable people in Scottish society.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, I have considered again if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. I have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. There is a greater public interest in allowing staff to focus on the current and ongoing delivery of the Social Security Programme and the vital support being delivered to some of the most vulnerable in society. Diverting these resources would impact the delivery of the Social Security Programme which would not be in the public interest.
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