Covid Grants

Pat Mastelotto made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Cherwell District Council

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Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Cherwell District Council.

Dear Cherwell District Council,

1. Can you provide a list of all the businesses and organisations which have received money from Cherwell District Council as a result of covid funding/grants?

2. For each business and organisation which has received covid funding please detail how much the sum of money was and if has to be repaid. If it has to be repaid please detail the arrangements.

3. Can you list any business and organisation that has received covid funding which Cherwell District councilors or officers have a financial or any other interest in?

Yours faithfully,

Pat Mastelotto

CherwellFOI, Cherwell District Council

Dear Pat Mastelotto,

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Reference 1173 FOI

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 12 April in which you
asked for the following information:

 

1. Can you provide a list of all the businesses and organisations which
have received money from Cherwell District Council as a result of covid
funding/grants?

 

2. For each business and organisation which has received covid funding
please detail how much the sum of money was and if has to be repaid. If it
has to be repaid please detail the arrangements.

 

3. Can you list any business and organisation that has received covid
funding which Cherwell District councilors or officers have a financial or
any other interest in?

 

With regards to question 3, I can confirm that Cherwell District Council
does not hold this information.

 

With regards to questions 1 and 2, I can confirm that the Council does
hold the information but it is not being released to you as an exemption
applies, namely Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
which states:

 

31(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30
is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be
likely to, prejudice –

(a) The prevention or detection of crime.

 

In the first instance, the Council must consider whether the exemption is
engaged. The Council considers that supplying the information requested
may lead to criminal activity, such as fraudulent/fictitious claims, it
could be used for potential fraud whereby an individual could target a
company, set up a bank account and fraudulently receive a grant. By
supplying the information, the Council may be targeted by cyber criminals
and that the publication of these details could lead to local businesses
becoming the victims of criminal activity. This would have a detrimental
effect on the prevention or detection of crime which can be categorised as
real and of substance: it is more than a hypothetical possibility; there
is a real and significant risk that disclosure of the information in
question could result in the outcomes predicted by the Council.

 

Therefore, I conclude that the exemption provided by FOIA section 31(1)(a)
is engaged. However, this is a qualified exemption and therefore I must
consider the public interest test to decide whether the public interest in
maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

 

The Public Interest Test

 

Arguments in favour of disclosure

 a. There is a general public interest in disclosing information that
promotes accountability and transparency in order to maintain the
confidence and trust in the awarding of the Covid-19 grants.
Disclosure of the information would reveal whether or not the Council
conducted a fair process in awarding the Covid-19 grants to local
businesses.
 b. The council understands that the information – names of companies
awarded a grant and the amount received, is of possible interest to
individuals or companies, particularly those that were not awarded a
grant.
 c. This matter is of interest at local and national level and it is
important that the Council can demonstrate how tax payers’ money is
being spent or allocated.

 

Arguments against disclosure

 

 a. The inherent public interest in the prevention of all crimes which
would have an adverse effect on the community;
 b. Disclosure would be likely to encourage criminal activity which could
result in fraudulent or fictitious claims for Covid-19 grants. The
information could be used for potential fraud, a company could be
targeted and the individual could open up a bank account and receive a
grant fraudulently which would have a detrimental effect on the
prevention and detection of crime.
 c. The risk of an increase in fraud would mean an increase in resources
required to investigate and as such, a possible reduction in service
level as well as additional cost to the public purse.
 d. With reference to (b) above, disclosure under the FOIA is disclosure
to the world at large. The Council must therefore consider whether the
information is suitable for disclosure to everyone. Given the
 concerns that disclosure of the information would be likely to impact
on local businesses and that the exemption is engaged as disclosure
would be likely to result in prejudice to the prevention or detection
of crime, disclosure to the world at large would be counter to the
public interest.

 

In all the circumstances of the case, the Council considers that the
public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the information.

 

If you are not satisfied with this response, you may request an internal
review by contacting us at [1][Cherwell District Council request email].

 

If following the review you are still not satisfied with the Council’s
response, you are advised to contact the Information Commissioner directly
at the Information Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF or on [2][email address].

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Karen Dickson

Strategic Finance Business Partner

 

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If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
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Dear Cherwell District Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Cherwell District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Covid Grants'.

Can you confirm that covid grants awarded by Oxford City Council are totally exempt from public scrutiny and that the Council are able to award grants to whoever they like, including friends, colleagues and associates with no chance of being held to account for improper allocation of public funds?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Pat Mastelotto

CherwellFOI, Cherwell District Council

Reference: 1173 FOI-CDC

 

Dear Pat Mastelotto,

Thank you for your email dated 31 May 2021. We can confirm that this
matter has been logged as an internal review, so that we can revisit the
response we provided to you.

 

The review will be undertaken by a manager not involved in the original
handling of your request. In line with guidance from the Information
Commissioner’s Office, we will aim to provide a full response within 20
working days beginning the day your email was received. This means you
will receive a response by or on 25 June 2021.

If you have any further queries in the meantime, please do not hesitate to
contact us at this address, quoting the reference number at the head of
this email.

Yours sincerely

 

Sarah Smith

Access & Disclosure Officer

On Behalf of Cherwell District Council

 

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

CherwellFOI, Cherwell District Council

1 Atodiad

Reference: 1173 FOI IR-CDC

 

Dear Pat Mastelotto,

 

Thank you for your email dated 31 May 2021. Please find attached the
Council’s Internal Review response in regard to your request 1173 FOI.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Sarah Smith

Access & Disclosure Officer

On Behalf of Cherwell District Council

 

 

 

This email, including attachments, may contain confidential information.
If you have received it in error, please notify the sender by reply and
delete it immediately. Views expressed by the sender may not be those of
Oxfordshire County Council. Council emails are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. [1]email disclaimer. For information about how
Oxfordshire County Council manages your personal information please see
our [2]Privacy Notice.

References

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2. https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/council/a...

Dear CherwellFOI,

Unfortunately your response does not offer any reassurance that public money is being given away in a responsible, fair and open manner.

By the Governments own admission it is thought that over 50% of covid grants could be fraudulent. It is not reassuring that these vast sums of money are not available to public scrutiny.

Yours sincerely,

Pat Mastelotto