Concern about accessing or re-using information from a public body (not recd. an acknowledgement from the ICO)
Dear Information Commissioner's Office,
I had emailed below to [email address] on 29 March 2019 and have not recd. any acknowledgement so far. Generally an automated response is received and in this case, this has also not been received. Please advise.
Subject: Refusal of request for spend information on Children Services made by Slough Children Services Trust on behalf of Slough Borough Council
Whilst we understand that Slough Borough Council have not made any payments for Children’s Services, as these are now managed by Slough Children Services Trust (SCST) – a company limited by guarantee and set up under the instructions of The Secretary of State following a poor Ofsted inspection in 2014.
We however believe the trust has been set up as an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) and hence the organisation, though a private company is in effect managing the Children’s Services of Slough Council and are wholly dependent on the council for its existence.
Attached is a link from CfpS and in particular the paragraph below :-
“Slough Children’s Services Trust is a wholly owned company under the direction of the Secretary of State. It commenced in October 2015 following nine months of intensive negotiations. The trust took on responsibility for the delivery of children’s early help, social care functions and special educational needs services under the direction of the Secretary of State. The Direction came after Ofsted visited in Feb 2014 and found services to be inadequate with widespread and serious failings. It was decided that the best format for Slough Children’s Services Trust would be a company limited by guarantee - but it does not distribute a profit to shareholders. It is governed by a board of directors who oversee the work. The Director of SCST sits within Slough Borough Council and is responsible for commissioning and monitoring the performance of the Trust against the contract and KPIs that have been agreed.”
Also please refer to guide to Freedom of Information dated July 2018 -
Please refer to the section - “Are we covered by the Freedom of Information Act”, which states :-
“The Act only covers public authorities. Schedule 1? of the Act contains a list of the bodies that are classed as public authorities in this context. Some of these bodies are listed by name, such as the Health and Safety Executive or the National Gallery. Others are listed by type, for example government departments, parish councils, or maintained schools. Executive agencies are classed as part of their parent government department; for example, the DVLA is covered by the Act because it is part of the Department for Transport."
The act then goes on to state
Section 5 of the Act gives the Secretary of State the power to designate further bodies as public authorities. If in doubt, you can check the latest position at www.legislation.gov.uk. Certain bodies are only covered for some of the information they hold, for example -
• GPs, dentists and other health practitioners only have to provide information about their NHS work;
• the BBC, Channel 4 and the Welsh channel S4C (the public service broadcasters) do not have to provide information about journalistic, literary or artistic activities; and
• some bodies that have judicial functions do not have to provide information about these functions
In addition to the bodies listed in the Act, with effect from 1 September 2013 the definition of a public authority now also covers companies which are wholly owned -
• by the Crown
• by the wider public sector; or
• by both the Crown and the wider public sector
These terms are defined in more detail in the amended section 6 of FOIA.
For example, some local authorities have transferred responsibility for services (eg. social housing) to a private company (sometimes known as an arm’s-length management organisation or ALMO), which is wholly owned by the local authority. This type of company counts as a public authority in its own right and needs to respond to requests for information. Where a company is wholly owned by a number of local authorities it is also now a public authority for the purposes of FOIA”
Inferring from the above, it clear that Slough Children’s Trust is an Arms Length Management Organisation under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
We have approached SCST who have responded that they will comply with requests should they be authorized by Slough council. Their response specifically was :-
"Please refer to our website page regarding information requests https://www.scstrust.co.uk/who-we-are/in...
Please be advised that as Slough Children’s Services Trust is a private limited company they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
All Freedom of Information requests should be directed to Slough Borough Council via the process listed on their website.
Slough Children’s Services Trust will support Slough Borough Council in answering Freedom of Information Requests where they are processing data on behalf of them."
Based on above, we would be grateful if you could instruct SCST to please provide the information we have requested.
Also, if it would help, we are a research organization building system for data & predictive analytics of the Health & Social Care market in the UK and as such do not require any data about individuals or personal redacted data.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is attached to this email & is also available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...
Thanking you in advance,
I hereby authorize you to deal with/contact Mr. Homi Ghadiali on my behalf.
Attachments: Official access information (pdf), all correspondence with the public body (pdf)
Dear Nikhil Prabhu
Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) through the whatdotheyknow.com (WDTK) website.
The WDTK website was created to help people request information from public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs).
The ICO is the regulator responsible for overseeing information rights legislation. We are also subject to the legislation we oversee.
As a public authority we are subject to the FoIA and EIRs, so if people want to request information we might hold about our work as a public body, they can do this through WDTK.
The correspondence you have sent to us is not a request for information we might hold. It relates to a complaint about the way an organisation has complied with the legislation we oversee. We do deal with issues like this. However, we do not deal with this part of our work through the WDTK website.
I am sorry you did not receive a response or acknowledgment to your email dated 29 March. I can confirm it has been received and a case has been created for allocation. You will receive further communication under this case number in due course. We will use the email address attached to your original email.
If you have any further questions about your complaint please use the email address connected to your email of 29 March.
Senior Information Access Officer, Risk and Governance Department
Corporate Strategy and Planning Directorate
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 03304146450 F. 01625 524510 ico.org.uk twitter.com/iconews
Please consider the environment before printing this email
For information about what we do with personal data see our privacy notice
We work to defend the right to FOI for everyone
Help us protect your right to hold public authorities to account. Donate and support our work.Donate Now