1. (a) Dates of meetings in 2021 between the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions Ministers or Senior Officials and (b) Scottish Government minutes of these meetings.
2. (a) Dates of meetings in 2021 between the Minister for Social Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions Ministers or Senior Officials and (b) Scottish Government minutes of meetings.
In 2021, three meetings took place between the aforementioned Scottish Government and UK Government Ministers. From Scottish Government, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing & Local Government, Shona Robison MSP and Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben Macpherson MSP met the UK Government Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP on 14 September 2021. The Cabinet Secretary and the Minister met the UK Government Minister for State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Chloe Smith MP on 02 November 2021. Ben Macpherson MSP again met Chloe Smith MP on 09 November 2021. Some of the information you have requested like the 17th Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare minutes that (https://www.gov.scot/publications/joint-ministerial-working-group-on-welfare-minutes-november-2021/). Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
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 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of internal Scottish Government notes of some of these meetings would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government. It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations. Disclosure of these internal notes will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to communicate as frequently and openly with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other UK administrations.
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 maintaining close working relationships between the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest, such as social security. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications as that may impact on the effectiveness of future policy development and implementation of social security benefits in Scotland and in the UK.
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
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