Publication - FOI/EIR release

Tenant Hardship Loan Fund: FOI review

Published: 8 Oct 2021

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

Published:
8 Oct 2021
Tenant Hardship Loan Fund: FOI review
FOI reference: FOI/202100234068 review of 202100224578
Date received: 19 Aug 2021
Date responded: 16 Sep 2021
Information requested

Your request, reference 202100224578
How much  has the Scottish Government spent on operating and administering the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund.

Can this information be broken down as follows:

  • total costs to date
  • average cost to date per application received
  • the average cost of the credit checks undertaken to date
  • the average cost of the affordability checks undertaken to date
  • total cost of finance obtained which has been provided as loans
  • forecast costs of operating and administering the fund for its lifetime
  • the forecast per application
  • forecast cost of the £10m finance it will obtain

Can you provide detail of how the costs of administration and operation will be met.

Your review request, reference 202100234068
Firstly, the officer has not responded to the request where I asked "the average cost of the affordability checks undertaken to date".

Second, the s33 exemption has not been applied correctly. Section 33 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 has three parts, and the officer has not demonstrated which part is being employed to refuse the request, or how the public interest is satisfied in withholding the information. Clearly there is an interest in a scheme which is lending money, and the cost of administering that money.

I would surprised that the information, or a cost breakdown, has not been provided from the contractor. It is not a trade secret, I am highly doubtful the fees are  likely to prejudice substantially the financial interests of an “administration in the United Kingdom” or the UK, and there will not be substantial harm to the contractor as they have already been awarded the contract or had their original contract varied, and nonetheless, the original tender wasn't competitive and only 1 tender was received.

Response

I have concluded a different decision should be substituted.

Information in relation to the total cost of finance obtained which has been provided as loans and details of how the costs of administration and operation will be met was provided to you in our initial response. You have not raised any dissatisfaction in relation to these points therefore I have not gone on to consider these further as part of this review.

For ease of reference, I have set out my response to the remaining points in three separate parts.

Part 1

  • total costs to date
  • average cost to date per application received

After further consideration of the public interest test, the decision to withhold has been reconsidered, I have therefore provided this information below:

  • Total costs to date (up until the end of August 2021) = £264,839
  • Average cost to date per application received = £252

I acknowledge that our initial response did not set out the reasons why section 33(1)(b) of FOISA in respect of the total cost to date and the average cost to date per application received exemptions applies, nor did it detail our public interest considerations, I apologies for this oversight.

Part 2

  • the average cost of the credit checks undertaken to date
  • the average cost of the affordability checks undertaken to date

We did provide a response to the affordability checks undertaken to date that you requested. These checks were included within the contract variation and referred to as credit checks as outlined in the original response, we do not track or calculate the cost of either because they are a part of the larger application processing flow. This is a formal notice under 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Part 3

  • forecast costs of operating and administering the fund for its lifetime
  • the forecast per application
  • forecast cost of the £10m finance it will obtain

Our initial response stated that ‘The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is regularly reviewed to ensure it remains an appropriate and necessary support measure in response to the pandemic. Because we do not as yet know when this support might be withdrawn it is not possible to offer forecast costs. The Scottish Government thus does not hold this information.

I would like to add to this by stating that this is a formal notice under 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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.

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