Publication - FOI/EIR release

Social Security Scotland Executive Advisory Body minutes and agendas - August meeting: FOI release

Published: 6 Dec 2019
Part of:
Public sector

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

Published:
6 Dec 2019
Social Security Scotland Executive Advisory Body minutes and agendas - August meeting: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02436
Date received: 30 Oct 2019
Date responded: 3 Dec 2019
Information requested

You asked:

Under FOISA, please provide all drafts and copies of Social Security Scotland Executive Advisory Body minutes and agendas relating to the 20 August 2019 meeting.

This should include versions of the minutes and agendas not published at https://www.socialsecurity.gov.scot/what-we-do/minutes-meetings-and-agendas, and drafts provided to members before and at the meeting they were approved for, as well as the notes taken for the aiding of producing the minutes, as well as any correspondence relating to changes to the minutes.

Please also provide relevant papers 8.1 through to 8.5 provided at the meeting/to those attending.

Response

Some of the information you have requested is available online. See below links to Executive Advisory Body papers from the 20 August 2019 meeting.

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 under sections s.27(1) (information intended for future release), s.30(c) (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Annex - Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies

s.38(1)(b) – Personal Information

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested, such as names or initials. Disclosing this information 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.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

Minutes (First Draft)
s.30(c) – Prejudice to Effective Conduct of Public Affairs

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (Otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the effective conduct of public affairs. In this case, the information relates to ongoing discussions around the operational delivery of the Scottish Child Payment, where a final decision has yet to be taken. Disclosing this information before a final decision would lead to resources being diverted away from the delivery of the Social Security Programme to field queries from staff, stakeholders, and clients. If a decision is reached that requires communications with Agency staff, stakeholders or clients, this will be appropriately managed with all relevant information provided to them.

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 staff to focus on the current and ongoing delivery of the Social Security Programme. Information of such a nature must be released in a controlled and measured way in full context, having been carefully assessed so as not to cause upset or disruption or require us to redirect resources to handle queries.

Finance Report
s.30(c) – Prejudice to Effective Conduct of Public Affairs

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to conduct financial management effectively which is based on our ability to analyse and discuss the cause of over or underspends and assess the risk around making different decisions to ensure financial balance. This would constitute substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in terms of the exemption.
We have assessed this request against 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. However there is a greater public interest in protecting the processes for financial management and ensuring that the Scottish Government is able to conduct this effectively. This means that we have not disclosed the plans or associated explanations of any variation against plan which is business judgement. The information which has been provided is in line with the disclosure in our Annual Report and Accounts.

This also applies to the same information recorded in the Balance Scorecard.

Balanced Scorecard
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

s.27(1) – Information Intended for Future Publication

An exemption under section 27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies some of the information in the Balanced Scorecard. The redacted information under “Client Experience” on the Balanced Scorecard will be published on 11 December 2019, and the redacted information under Organisational capacity, learning and growth figures will be published on 17 December 2019. This information will be published here and here, within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this information before the planned publication date.

We have assessed this request against 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 that there is some public interest in the information, however, this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. The information will be published once the appropriate quality assurance has been undertaken allowing the Official Statistics objective of orderly release and equal accessibility of statistics as outlined in the Official Statistics Code of Practice.

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/19/02436 - Correspondence

5 page PDF
560.6 kB

FOI/19/02436 - Finance Report

7 page PDF
526.2 kB

FOI/19/02436 - Balanced Scorecard

5 page PDF
220.5 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