Dear National Savings and Investments,

An appartently official You Tube video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmcyLXFx...) explains that 'Agent Million' goes to great lengths to personally inform a relatively small number of fortunate people that they are Premium Bonds monthly jackpot winners. Accompanying 'blurb' talks of over 280 such people being visited in over 60 countries.

I ask, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, for information concerning the cost of both employing one or more individuals to undertake these unnecessary journeys, and the costs of travel and accomodation etc for say the last five years.

The video explains that the longest UK trip at the time of making was a 420 miles each way. Please provide details of the ten furthest overseas distances travelled.

I must also ask whether any thought has ever been given, in light expecially of the more recent reductions in the prize fund, as to whether the concept of a junketing Agent Million is a stunt too far and whether the costs would be better spent as part of the prize fund.

Please provide copies of any meetings, agendas and minutes relating to the Agent Million concept, who thought it up, and why especially, overseas trips are thought necessary.

Yours faithfully,

tim todd

NS&I Customer Enquiries, National Savings and Investments

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foi@nsandi.com, National Savings and Investments

FOI Ref: 2017.04.02

Date: 7 April 2017

 

Dear Mr Todd

 

Request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

 

Thank you for your email of 1 April 2017, requesting information regarding
Premium Bonds’ Agent Million. 

 

In accordance with the FOIA, we will endeavour to provide you with a
response within 20 working days of receipt of your letter.

 

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will
let you know. A fee notice will be issued to you, and you will be required
to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request. Further
information on our FOIA scheme is available at
[1]http://nsandi-corporate.com/about-nsi/re...
>

 

Yours sincerely

 

Brian Heneghan
[2]NS&I
Freedom of Information Team
1 Drummond Gate
London, SW1V 2QX

 

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foi@nsandi.com, National Savings and Investments

Our Ref: 2017.04.02

 

Date: 4 May 2017

 

 

Dear Mr Todd

 

Request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

 

Thank you for your email of 1 April 2017, requesting information regarding
Premium Bonds’ Agent Million.  Please find detailed below the response to
your request.

 

Firstly, I should provide some further background to your line of enquiry.
There have currently (up to May 2017) been 362 £1 million jackpot winners.
To clarify, only 5 of these winners were from overseas locations. Agent
Million has made personal visits to some overseas winners but it may not
always be practical to do so. I can confirm that 4 out of the 5 overseas
winners received personal visits.   

 

Cost of both employing one or more individuals to undertake these
unnecessary journeys, and the costs of travel and accommodation etc, for
say the last five years.

 

The answer to this request is exempt in accordance with section 1 (1a) of
the Act as we do not hold this information. The costs of Agent Million
travelling abroad are absorbed into our business costs and we are unable
to accurately extract the specific details you have requested.  The costs
of Agent Million have no impact on the Prize Fund which is strictly
determined by the prize fund rate and the amount of eligible bonds
invested each month. The prize fund can fluctuate from one month to the
next by the amount of Bonds customers purchase or have repaid, or by a
change to the prize fund rate. Our budget for business costs is completely
separate.    

 

Please provide copies of any meetings, agendas and minutes relating to the
Agent Million concept, who thought it up, and why especially, overseas
trips are thought necessary.

 

The jackpot of £1 million was introduced in 1994. The answer to this
request is exempt in accordance with section 1 (1a) of the Act as we no
longer hold this information.

 

Please provide details of the ten furthest overseas distances travelled.

 

As previously mentioned we have only had 5 winners located overseas so
far. We are restricted to the amount of information we can publish about a
jackpot winner. Each month we publish the winning bond number, the bond
value, purchase date, holding value, gender and location. To protect
winners’ anonymity and help keep their personal details confidential, we
only list an area when there are at least 100,000 Premium Bonds holders
living there.

 

The following link explains in further detail the restrictions placed on
prize winner locations.

 

[1]https://www.nsandi.com/prize-checker

 

For Premium Bonds holders living outside the UK, we only publish the
country when there are at least 100,000 holders living there. Otherwise,
we publish the area as ‘overseas’

 

The answer to this request is therefore exempt in accordance with Section
40 (2) of the Act (Personal Information Exemption). Making this
information available to the public would be in contradiction to the above
restrictions and could potentially lead to a breach of customer
confidentiality. 

 

Disclosure of this information does not authorise any rights of reuse
under the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulation 2015 (ROPSIR). 
Requests under ROPSIR are to be directed to NS&I’s Freedom of Information
Team.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
FOIA request, you have the right to have this response reviewed within 2
months of the date of this communication, initially by our internal review
process and, if you remain unhappy with the response, by the Information
Commissioner. If you would like to have this response reviewed please
write to the NS&I Freedom of Information Team at Freedom of Information
Team, 1 Drummond Gate, London, SW1V 2QX or email [2][email address]. Please
remember to quote your reference number in any future communications
regarding this request.

 

Kind regards

 

Brian Heneghan
[3]NS&I
Freedom of Information Team
1 Drummond Gate
London
SW1V 2QX

 

 

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References

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1. https://www.nsandi.com/prize-checker
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.nsandi.com/

Dear National Savings and Investments,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of National Savings and Investments's handling of my FOI request 'Costs Associated with Agent Million'.

Your answer, in relation to the number of oveseas million pound winners (5 of which 4 have been visited) is incompatible with the statement by you on the YouTube video, namely :
"Published on 23 Dec 2013
Since 1994, we've made over 280 people millionaires, in over 60 counties. This means a lot of travelling for the person who delivers the good news! Find out just how far Agent Million will go to find our Premium Bonds monthly jackpot winner, and what happens if you're not home when they come knocking. "

Please explain how you can talk of winners in over 60 countries on the one hand, and then only 5 oveseas winners on the other.

I reject your explanation for seeking exemption under the Act on the basis that you do not hold information about the cost of Agent Million. Of course you have the information- unless you keep no records of any sort, including expenses, wages etc. If you cannot explain your business costs, then perhaps I should be talking to your auditor, please asdvise me as to who fulfills that role, as well as answering my question.

I asked for documentary evcidence about Agent Million, not million pound winner identities. Please clarify when Agent Million was introduced, and provide the documentary evidence requested. If you don't know why you do it, or how it was authorised and what it costs, I am confident that whoever holds you accountable will berather more interested.

I reject your claim that the ten furthest distances travelled is exempt. I have not asked for the winners personal details, nor their country of residence, nor even the locations within any country, nor even in which direction from your offices Agent Million set off on these ten trips. Your policy of only listing an area where 100,000 PB holders reside is irrelevant to the FOI request. Provide the distances please.

Your relecutance to provide any reasonable level of information, or to demonstrate any accountability as to Agent Million, prompts me to ask for one additional piece of information, the name of the person to whom nsandi are accountable to on behalf of investors. When the return on Premium Bonds is so low as to dramatically reduce the attraction to investors, someone at nsandi really ought to show some interest in making the fund more attractive - even if that means cutting out jollys.

In closing I would remind you that the Act requires that you should provide information 'promptly' and in no less than 20 working days. Please explain why your reply was not provided promptly as it patently did not take 20 days to research.

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,

T Todd

foi@nsandi.com, National Savings and Investments

Our Ref: 2017.04.02 (IR)

Date: 24 July 2017

 

 

 

Dear Mr Todd

 

Request for Internal Review under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA)

 

I refer to your reply on 4 May 2017, requesting an internal review in
relation to our response to your request for information about ‘Costs
associated with Agent Million’.

 

Firstly, I apologise for the long delay in completing this review. Your
reply had not been referred to our FOI team via our Customer Enquiries
team. We recently became aware of your latest communication on the
Whatdotheyknow.com website.  In view of this we have since updated our
email address with Whatdotheyknow.com so they are now using our direct FOI
email address ([1][email address]). All their communications will now go
directly to our team to avoid such an error occurring in the future.

 

Internal Review

 

Overseas jackpot winners

 

To clarify the query concerning the YouTube video, the description states
‘60 counties’. This is referring to counties of the UK not countries
around the world. The video audio mentions the longest trip being to
Cornwall but that Agent Million has also travelled abroad to inform ‘some’
overseas winners about their win.

 

As confirmed in our reply on 4 May, there have been 5 overseas jackpot
winners of which 4 have received visits. The following information is
approximate travelling distances, in miles, from shortest to longest
overseas trip.

 

 1. 103 miles
 2. 380 miles
 3. 622 miles
 4. 905 miles

 

The fifth location that was not visited was 4,315 miles.

 

Concept of Agent million

 

The jackpot of £1 million was introduced in April 1994 and in our reply we
have confirmed we no longer hold the type of documents you requested, in
accordance with section 1 (1a) of the Act, about the introduction of Agent
Million. NS&I regard the role of Agent Million as being a very important
service to any of our customers who win the jackpot as it concerns a very
significant sum of money.

A personal visit gives them reassurance and also enables the verification
of identity to be completed smoothly, which is equally important before
the prize can be released to the winner. 

 

Costs of Agent Million

 

We have confirmed that we do not hold any information in accordance with
section 1 (1a) of the Act. NS&I has outsourced its operations, including
the running of the Premium Bonds prize draw, and our current service
provider is ATOS. The running costs associated with this are incurred by
ATOS and as such any information is held by ATOS. The current contract
began on 1 April 2014. The role of Agent Million is carried out by members
of the prize draw team who are all employees of ATOS. The team looks after
all aspects of the Premium Bonds monthly prize draw, including liaising
with the Government’s Actuary Department (GAD), who carry out independent
checks, to verify the randomness of the output generated by ERNIE. All
specific costs concerning Agent Million are associated with ATOS and NS&I
does not hold any information about this.

 

Premium Bond prize draw fund

 

The prize draw fund is strictly determined by the amount of eligible bonds
in the draw and the interest rate set by the Treasury. Any possible cost
savings would not be added to the fund as this would be inappropriate and
discredit the integrity of the fund. The fund is affected by customers
purchasing or repaying bonds, or by changing the rate. Based on the amount
of eligible Bonds in the July 2017 draw (69,447,044,453), increasing the
rate by just 0.05% would amount to a cost of approximately £2.9 million
per month.     

 

Time taken to respond

 

In accordance with the Act we are required to reply within 20 working days
of receiving your request. Your initial request was made on Saturday 1
April and received on the next working day, Monday 3 April. 20 workings
days from this date, taking into account the Easter period and May bank
holiday, gave a deadline of 4 May which was the date of our reply. As
acknowledged, we have not completed this internal review within an
acceptable time and have taken steps to prevent this happening
again.       

 

Additional information       

You requested the name of our auditors? The details are as follows:

Government Internal Audit Agency
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

Email: [2][email address]

 

You asked for the name of the person who NS&I is accountable to?

 

NS&I is a government department and an Executive Agency of the Chancellor
of the Exchequer. The Minister currently responsible for NS&I is Stephen
Barclay MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury.  

 

More information about NS&I and our performance can be viewed at

 

[3]http://nsandi-corporate.com/about-nsi/

 

I trust this information is helpful and once again I apologise for the
long delay in completing this review.

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

If you remain dissatisfied after an internal review decision, you have the
right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Commissioner
is an independent regulator who has the power to direct us to respond to
your request differently, if he considers that we have handled it
incorrectly.

You can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at the following
address:

Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House,

Water Lane,

Wilmslow,

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Internet address: [4]https://www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us

 

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Middleton
[5]NS&I
Freedom of Information Team
1 Drummond Gate
London
SW1V 2QX

 

 

 

This e-mail contains confidential information and is for the exclusive use of the addressee/s.
If you are not the addressee, then any distribution, copying or use of this e-mail is prohibited.
If received in error, please advise the sender and delete it immediately.
We accept no liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person arising from use of this e-mail.
It is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that this message is virus free.

NS&I will never send e-mails requesting personal or confidential information.
If you ever receive such an e-mail appearing to come from NS&I, do not reply to it instead,
please contact us immediately.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://nsandi-corporate.com/about-nsi/
4. https://www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us
5. http://www.nsandi.com/

tim todd left an annotation ()

FIrstly it is very interesting to learn that 'ERNIE' has been take over by the hated ATOS whose diabolical reputation doesn't need comment from me here but may well deter people from buying or keeping Premium Bonds.
It appears to me that the YouTube video has been changed as it now bears no references to counties or countries
That NS&I now hide behind the business being transferred to ATOS to avoid full reply is an excellent example of why the FOI , currently under review, should be extended to cover sub contractors

Dear [email address],
I note your most recent response.
Perhaps you can clarify a further pint for me. The YouTube clip in my original complain now appears to bear no references to counties or countries. Can you confirm that it has been changed, and if so why, and what were the changes.

Yours sincerely,

tim todd

foi@nsandi.com, National Savings and Investments

Dear Mr Todd

The YouTube clip summary text went through a recent annual republish review and a minor amendment was made as it was considered the number of jackpot winners was now dated. Rather than update the figure the text was changed to 'hundreds' to future proof it over a far longer term period.

The text was changed from

'Since 1994, we’ve made over 280 people millionaires, in over 60 counties.'

to

'Since 1994, we’ve made hundreds of people millionaires, in over 60 counties.'

To clarify, the summary still refers to counties and the video itself has not been changed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmcyLXFx...

I trust this resolves your query.

Regards

Brian Heneghan
Freedom of Information Team
1 Drummond Gate
London
SW1V 2QX

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