Information

Referendum Budget: FOI release

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


Information requested

The following information:

(1) A breakdown of how that £20 million was calculated - including all documents which shows how the figure was calculated and all details of how the money would be predicted to be spent. In other words, all documents which show the rationale of the final figure.

(2) All correspondence between relevant Scottish Government workers (presumably email correspondence or official meetings between Scottish Government workers responsible for the announcement) concerning the finalised figure of £20 million and how it would be announced to the public. The scope of this would be within the day that the figure was calculated and agreed on.

(3) A list of every Scottish Government worker and Minister responsible for agreeing to that figure of £20 million and the date of that meeting and agreement.

 

Response

(1) A breakdown of how that £20 million was calculated - including all documents which shows how the figure was calculated and all details of how the money would be predicted to be spent. In other words, all documents which show the rationale of the final figure.

Some of the information you have requested is contained within the Financial Memorandum which accompanied the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. However, in the interests of being helpful, a link to the information is provided below: Referendums (Scotland) Bill Financial Memorandum (parliament.scot)

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation of the Scottish Government’s plans regarding an independence referendum.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

The following explanation may also be helpful. The Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020, which was commenced on 30 January 2020, provides a legal framework for the holding of referendums on any matters within the control of the Scottish Parliament. Details pertaining to the campaign, conduct, activities, events and other necessary preparations are set out in the Act. You can access the Act at the link provided below: Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020 (legislation.gov.uk).

The Act was accompanied by a financial memorandum, which set out the costs expected to arise for referendums held under the Act. This is linked to above, and includes details of who would be funded to deliver a referendum under the Act.

(3) A list of every Scottish Government worker and Minister responsible for agreeing to that figure of £20 million and the date of that meeting and agreement.

The Resource Spending Review Publication was approved by Cabinet via correspondence issued on the 28th of May.

(2) All correspondence between relevant Scottish Government workers (presumably email correspondence or official meetings between Scottish Government workers responsible for the announcement) concerning the finalised figure of £20 million and how it would be announced to the public. The scope of this would be within the day that the figure was calculated and agreed on.

We have interpreted your this part of your request as asking for correspondence on the 28th of May discussing how the £20 million figure would be presented to the public.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance, an exemption under Section 17 applies. This is a formal notice under section 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

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