Business grants policy changes: FOI release

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

Information requested

I would like to obtain the following information. The below questions/requests relate to the period 1 March 2020 to 15 April 2020 unless otherwise stated.

Why did the Scottish Government change policies on business grants between 18 March and 24 March as detailed here and here. For clarity, on 18 March the Scottish Government announced ‘£25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000’ then on 24 March the Scottish Government clarified ‘a one-off grant of £25,000 available to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value between £18,001 and £50,999.’ I would like to see any correspondence, memos, phone call records, texts and anything else relevant to this issue.


The Cabinet Secretary for Finance recently responded to a written parliamentary question on the clarifying of the thresholds for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. This can be found at the following link, S5W-28257.

While the aim of the Scottish Government is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 30(b) (i), of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained at the bottom of this letter.

An exemption under section 30(b) (i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. 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 would substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future.

An exemption under section s.38 (1) (b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies to data that it is considered to be the personal data. This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Where the content of a document is considered personal data, this information has been redacted.

The Scottish Government does hold some documents that fall within the scope of your request. Where the content of a document pertains to information that is not considered within the scope of your request, this information has been redacted. I have enclosed PDF attachments of the documents that fall within the scope of your request. I have attached below a table of the documents that have been provided to you. The dates listed are those of the most recent correspondence in an email chain. Note that an initial forwarding email will feature at the top of any correspondence in order to overcome a quirk of the Scottish Government archive system.

Table of Documents

23 March 2020 Correspondence - 23 March - 9:05
30 March 2020 Correspondence - 30 March - 15:33
04 April 2020 Correspondence - 4 April - 17:09

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-202000028410 - Correspondence 23 March
FOI-202000028410 - Correspondence 30 March
FOI-202000028410 - Correspondence 4 April


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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