Correspondence with IoW Council regarding underwriting of legal costs to appeal term-time holiday ruling

Feargal Hogan made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Education,

Can you please provide copies of all correspondence with IoW Council, officials and councillors in relation to underwriting the costs of the appeal against the recent term time holiday ruling?

Yours faithfully,

Feargal Hogan

Department for Education

Dear Mr Hogan,

Thank you for your email request for information, which we received on 14 June. You requested:

“Can you please provide copies of all correspondence with IoW Council, officials and councilors in relation to underwriting the costs of the appeal against the recent term time holiday ruling?”

I am dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act).

I can confirm that we hold information falling within the terms of your request. However, we consider that exemption section 35(1)(a) of the Act applies to your request as some of the information you have requested relates to the formulation and development of government policy.

The Act obliges the Department to respond to requests promptly and in any case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request. However, when a qualified exemption applies to the information, the Department must consider whether the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the information. In these circumstance the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20 working days, and a full response must be provide within such time as is reasonable in all circumstances of the case.

In your case the Department estimates that it will take an additional 20 working days to take a decision on where the balance of public interest lies. It is anticipated that you will receive a full response by 5 August. If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we will keep you informed.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar months of the date of this email. Your complaint will be considered by an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original consideration of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Kennedy 

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

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Department for Education

Dear Mr Hogan, 

I wrote to you on 8 July to inform you that the Department was extending the deadline of your request for information, which was received on 14 June. We anticipated you would receive a response by 5 August.
Your request asked the following:
“Can you please provide copies of all correspondence with IoW Council, officials and councilors in relation to underwriting the costs of the appeal against the recent term time holiday ruling?”
I am writing to inform you that the Department needs more time to reach a conclusion. It is now anticipated that you will receive a response by 19 August.
I can confirm that we hold information falling within the terms of your request. However, we consider that exemption section 35(1)(a) of the Act applies to your request as some of the information you have requested relates to the formulation and development of government policy. We also consider that section 42 of the Act applies to some of the information that you have requested because it is subject to legal professional privilege.
The Act obliges the Department to respond to requests promptly and in any case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request. However, when a qualified exemption applies to the information, the Department must consider whether the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the information. In these circumstance the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20 working days, and a full response must be provide within such time as is reasonable in all circumstances of the case.
In your case the Department estimates that it will take an additional 10 working days over and above the previous 20 days extension to take a decision on where the balance of public interest lies. It is anticipated that you will receive a full response by 19 August. If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we will keep you informed.
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original consideration of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Yours sincerely,

 Karen Kennedy 

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

[https://www.education.gov.uk/images2/iri...

Department for Education

Dear Mr Hogan 

My colleague, Karen Kennedy, wrote to you on 5 August to inform you that the Department was extending the deadline of your request for information, which was received on 14 June. You were informed to expect a response by 19 August. I am writing to apologise that we are unlikely to make this deadline. You will receive a final response shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Mohammed Ahmed

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

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Department for Education

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Hogan
Thank you for your request for information, which we received on 14 June 2016. You requested:

“Can you please provide copies of all correspondence with IoW Council, officials and councillors in relation to underwriting the costs of the appeal against the recent term time holiday ruling?”
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”). Further to our response of 5 August 2016, the Department has considered whether the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding some or all of this information.
A copy of four items of information which can be disclosed are enclosed for your consideration. We are applying the exemption under section 40(2) (personal data) to some of the information related to this case. Personal data is that which relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data, or from that data and other information which is likely to be in, or to come into, the possession of the requestor. Disclosure of this information would contravene a number of the data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998, and would be regarded as ‘unfair’. By that, we mean the likely expectations of the data subject that his or her information would not be disclosed to others and the effect which disclosure would have on the data subject. Section 40(2) is an absolute exemption and is not subject to the public interest test.
The Department holds the remainder of the information you requested, but it is being withheld under section 36 (2)(b)(i), (b)(ii) and (c) because disclosure would be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views, or be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. Also, as set out in our response of 5 August, we also considered that exemptions under section 35(1)(a) and 42 of the Act apply to your request, but concluded that this was not the case.
The exemption under section 36 (2) is a qualified exemption and therefore a public interest test has been carried out. In doing so, the following factors have been taken into consideration:

* There is a general public interest in disclosure. Knowledge of the way Government works increases if the information on which decisions have been made is available. This can lead to public contribution to the policy making process becoming more effective. There is also a general public interest in disclosing information that pertains to the free and frank exchange of advice and views between the Department and Isle of Wight Council officers and councellors in relation to the underwriting of costs. This would provide additional context to the items that have been disclosed. It would also provide information on the conduct of public affairs in relation to the application for permission to appeal the High Court judgment (Isle of Wight Council – vs – Platt). This would also lead to increased engagement between citizens and Government, by showing first-hand the collaboration between the Department and the Council.

* Conversely, it is in the public interest not to disclose the information. The free and frank exchange of views and advice between the Department and the Council will be inhibited in relation to the ongoing application for permission to appeal, which is currently being considered by the Supreme Court. It is also likely to prejudice the conduct of public affairs, should the Supreme Court decide that an appeal can be made by the Council. Without protecting this information, there is likely to be a corrosive effect on the conduct of good government, with a risk that decision making will become poorer and will be recorded inadequately.
It is therefore the Department's view that the public interest in non-disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure of some items in this case. It is vital to the Department to be able to communicate with Council officers and counsellors in an open and frank manner, and exchange comprehensive information. Disclosure of the withheld information would be likely to have a potentially corrosive effect on the adequacy of information and therefore lead to less fully-informed decisions that are not in the public interest. The Department has therefore concluded that, in this instance, that public interest consideration was greater than the general public interest considerations for disclosure described above.
Disclosure of the withheld information would be likely to have a potentially corrosive effect on the adequacy of information and therefore lead to less fully-informed decision this is not in the public interest. The Department has concluded that, in this instance that public interest consideration was greater than the general public interest considerations for disclosure described above
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If you have any queries about this letter, please contact [email address]<mailto:[email address]>. Please remember to quote reference number 2016-0029541 in any future communications.
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original consideration of your request
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Yours sincerely,

Yvonne Slaven
Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

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