Information

Communications with Scottish National Investment Bank on policy direction: FOI release

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


Information requested

“Any communications the Scottish Government has had with the Scottish National Investment Bank on policy direction around the bank.”

Subsequent emailing confirmed you are referring to “decisions over policy decisions which relate to Scottish Government aims and outcomes. For example, the National Performance Framework or the National Economic Strategy that was recently released”. Within this clarification you gave a timeframe of “the last year”.

Response

Some of the information you have requested is reasonably available publicly and is therefore exempt under section 25(1) of FOISA. While we are not obliged to supply you with this information I have included a list of web links as Annex A where you can access these documents online.

We have interpreted your request for “the National Economic Strategy that was recently released” as the National Strategy for Economic Transformation which was published on 1 March 2022. A link to this, and to the National Performance Framework are included at Annex A to this letter.

With regard to your request for information relating to “decisions over policy decisions which relate to Scottish Government aims and outcomes” we have interpreted this as communication of these final decisions on policy directions relating to the Bank.

Scottish Government policy directions communicated to the Scottish National investment Bank (the Bank) convey wider, overarching policies which the Bank is expected to encompass in its operations. Decisions on these wider Scottish Government policies are relevant to many Scottish public bodies and are not specific to the Bank therefore do not fall within the scope of your request.

The overall policy direction for the Bank is set out in the Scottish National Investment Bank Act 2020, which establishes the Bank. The Act sets out the requirements of Scottish Ministers on how the Bank should operate, reporting expectations, and the policy and legislative context within which the Bank operates. The Act came into being more than 12 months ago so is not within the scope of your request, however I am supplying this information outwith FOISA and have included a link to it in Annex A.

This direction is set out in more detail in the Shareholder Relationship Framework Document (SRFD) which outlines the conduct of the relationship between the Bank and the Scottish Government (the Shareholder). This document refers the Bank to the key financial policies of the Scottish Government Pay Policy for Senior Appointments, Public Sector Pay Policy and the Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM). The SRFD was issued more than 12 months ago so is not within the scope of your request, however I am supplying this information outwith FOISA and have included a link to it in Annex A.

Strategic Missions for the Bank are set out in the Missions Letter. These three missions reflect a wide range of Scottish Government Policies, including those which are contained within the overarching National Performance Framework and Programme for Government. The Missions Letter was issued more than 12 months ago so is not within the scope of your re quest, however I am supplying this information outwith FOISA and have included a link to it in Annex A.

A Financial Memorandum setting out the financial framework and obligations which apply to the Bank and the Scottish Government sits alongside the SRFD. This document defines key roles and responsibilities which underpin the relationship between the Bank and the Scottish Government. The Financial Memorandum was issued more than 12 months ago so is not within the scope of your request, however I am supplying this information outwith FOISA and have included a link to it in Annex A.

As required by the Act, a Fair Work Direction was issued to the Bank in October 2021. This sets out Scottish Ministers expectations on how the Bank will operate in the context of the Scottish Government Fair Work First Criteria. A link to this is included in Annex A.

In addition, a Letter of Guidance reflecting Scottish Government policies in the context of the Bank is issued to the Bank, as with other Public Bodies, and is refreshed at least annually. The current Letter of Guidance was issued to the Bank on 22 March 2021. A copy of this document is attached as Annex B to this letter.

As a public body, the Bank is expected to adhere to a wide range of policy and legislative requirements in the same way as other such bodies. It is the Scottish Government’s expectation that the Bank keep themselves up to date with any changes to these and take any action that may be required.

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 an exemption under section 38(1) of FOISA applies as it relates to personal information of third parties, including names and contact details of Scottish Government officials and employees of the Bank. 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.

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

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