Dear Department of Health and Social Care,
Under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000, I am requesting copies of any and all correspondence between:
- the DHSC (including any agent acting on their behalf)
- and Ayanda Capital Limited (Co. number 11014884), their directors or employees, other companies connected by shareholdings including any overseas companies, or any agent acting on their behalf.
Please include copies of all written correspondence including emails, as well as notes taken during meetings or conversations and telephone calls.
Thank you. I hope to hear from you shortly.
Yours faithfully,
George Woodhouse
January 27th 2021

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,
I sent an information request to you regarding the correspondence, verbal and written, between yourselves and Ayanda Capital Limited. By law you should have provided this information promptly and by 24th Feb at the latest. I have not received either the information requested nor any explanation for the delay. Please would you attend to this without further delay?

Yours faithfully,

George Woodhouse

Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Woodhouse,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request (our ref: FOI-1288386).

Yours sincerely, 

Jane Spencer
Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health and Social Care

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Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Health and Social Care's handling of my FOI request 'Contracts Awarded To Ayanda Capital Limited'.

You have denied access to the information I requested under the FOI Act stating the following as your reasons:

"We recognise a general public interest in this area. However, we also take into account the
fact that this information contains commercially sensitive information on, for example,
volume, pricing and payment terms, and that its disclosure may place the supplier at a
commercial disadvantage, by threatening their competitive status in bidding for other
contracts in both the public and private sector. Releasing this information would also
prejudice DHSC’s future commercial relations with suppliers and weaken our position in
commissioning and achieving value for money for future services.
DHSC therefore takes the view that in this case the public interest lies in ensuring that
these commercial details are not disclosed"

My responses and counter arguments are as follows:
1. Much of the information that you claim to be sensitive is already, in outline, in the public domain, including the products purchased, the quantity the total price paid and payment terms.
2. The commercial company, Ayanda Capital Limited ("Ayanda"), being a financial investment company, have never supplied these products to this market previously and I understand were used simply as an emergency source because of the sudden increase in demand during the pandemic and the department's inability to obtain emergency supplies elsewhere. It seems unlikely that Ayanda will ever operate in this market again. So the information could not be detrimental to their future business, nor give any commercial competitor an advantage.
3. If there is nothing of concern in the information requested that cannot be explained through the emergency nature of the transaction, how can it possibly be commercially sensitive? If the terms are in any way unusual and therefore could in other circumstances be used by competitors of Ayanda, in this situation the emergency nature of the transaction is the only explanation that should be necessary.
4. In summary, if the explanations for dealing with Ayanda is correct, there can be no satisfactory reason to keep secret any of the details for reason of "commercial sensitivity". Because the situation was unique and incomparable the so called "sensitive information" would be of no use to any other supplier in normal negotiations.
5. Releasing this information after the event cannot possibly prejudice future relations/negotiations between the Dept and suppliers in future. Partly, again, because of its uniqueness but also because I would expect all information to be kept secret during negotiations for commercial reasons and to preserve the integrity of the biding process. But after the contract is awarded the information should be publicly available to the. This would be a normal process in a commercial situation to ensure both good relationship and the best deal possible. It also aids with ensuring the integrity of the bidding process.
6. Finally if I am not granted access to this information in full, in the short term and as a temporary compromise, I would be willing to accept the correspondence in full but simply with the relevant numbers only redacted.
e.g as follows: ".... the price payable was agreed at £XXX per single mask". "Payment terms were agreed with XXX% paid with order and the balance paid XXX weeks after delivery.

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,

George Woodhouse

FreedomofInformation, Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Woodhouse,

Your requested internal review of FOI-1298386 is now complete. Please see the attached letter for the outcome.

Yours sincerely,

Charlene Carter
Freedom of Information Casework Manager
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU

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George Woodhouse left an annotation ()

Submitted to the ICO on 24th March for appeal against the DHSC decision. My firm belief is that not only is the information requested not commercially sensitive, but I have also offered to compromise by allowing all the pricing, quantities etc. to be redacted from the documents.