Holding back your special report into council tax and bankruptcy

The request was successful.

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

Hi. I understand that you were due to issue a special report on your website in January this year in relation to council tax and bankruptcy.

----------------------------

Quote “Next special report, on council tax and bankruptcy, not yet published but expected December/January. (The last special report on partnership working was published in July 07.) Already some interest from media on this subject so could be a good opportunity to raise our profile and reinforce our advice and guidance role.”

--------------------------------

Can I ask

1.Why was this not issued.
2.On who authority was it withheld ( who made the decision )
3.How complete is the report
4.Can I have an electronic copy of the paperwork included in the report so far
5.Can I have an electronic copy of all the data, facts and figures you used or were using to compile this report.
6.How many enquires from the media did you get in relation to this.

Am particularly interested in this statement

“so could be a good opportunity to raise our profile and reinforce our advice and guidance role”

Yours faithfully,

George Cant

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

LGO “so could be a good opportunity to raise our profile and reinforce our advice and guidance role”

http://lgowatcher.blogspot.com/2006/05/e...

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Cant

Our ref: CS/10/139

This is to acknowledge receipt of your request below received on 4 November. I will respond within the 20 working day target (which would be by 2 December 2010) or, if unable to do so, I will write to you again explaining why.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cant

I attach a letter in response to your request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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George Cant left an annotation ()

they answered

------------------------------
In your email 4 November you asked various questions about the Ombudsmen's proposed special report on council tax and bankruptcy. My responses to these questions are as follows:

1.

The report has not yet been published because the Ombudsmen have not yet agreed a draft, consulted on it, and then produced a final version.
2.

The Ombudsmen.
3.

Several drafts have been produced, but a final draft has not yet been agreed.
4.

No. Because the report is only in draft, and the Ombudsmen have not yet agreed a final draft, I have decided not to disclose this information under the provisions of section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. Section 22 allows for refusal of requests for information intended for future publication. However, I am required to apply the public interest test when applying this exemption. This means that information must be released if the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it. As several drafts have been produced, and a final one has not yet been agreed, it would only cause confusion if any of the initial drafts were to be in the public domain, especially as the Ombudsmen will consult external bodies on the final draft. Such confusion would not serve the public interest, so I believe the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in releasing it.
5.

No. Any data used in compiling the report will be included, if it is material that can be published. Full details of Ombudsman cases will not be published if no Ombudsman report was issued, and some material used in compiling the report may be subject to copyright (but will therefore be available elsewhere).
6.

We may have had some enquiries from the media about the report - for example, asking when we might be publishing it - but we hold no records of these.

/…

That concludes my response. If you feel........

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

Following the Law Commission review Eric Pickles is supposedly planning some radical changes to the administrative justice system . I would imagine the LGO will publish the document at the most appropriate time to distract Eric from their failings.

http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/docs/cp196_summ...

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Local Government Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Holding back your special report into council tax and bankruptcy'.

I do not agree with your reason for holding this back

This report was more or less finished over a year ago
I don't agree that the public would be confused if they see the drafts, it may help the public see your reasoning.

Can i also have corrispondnace between the ombudsman offices in relation to holding this back or delaying this. Again, this allows the public to understand your reasoning.

I see absolutely no valid reason as to why you can not just send me what you have so far, especially since its been delayed a year.

I am suggesting the following.

1. The report was withheld because the outcomes suggested do not match up with real world cases, at least in the prospective of the member of the public.

and, i suggest

You don't want to release this prior to the time that final applications can be sent in to the law commission in relation to the Law Commission review of your affectivness.

and i suggest, it shows discrepancy of outcomes between ombudsman office ( york Variance )in relation to handling these particular type of complaints

So, please conduct this internal review ASAP so i can take it to the ICO.

Yours faithfully,

George Cant

Dear Foi Officer,

I just need to clearly identify that i have asked the following extra to the orgional request

"Can i also have corrispondance between the ombudsman offices in relation to holding this back or delaying this. Again, this allows the public to understand your reasoning."

memos, notes everything available please

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Cant

Our ref: CS/10/143

This is to acknowledge receipt of your request below received on 16 November. I will respond within the 20 working day target (which would be by 14 December 2010) or, if unable to do so, I will write to you again explaining why.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Dear Foi Officer,

Can i just draw to your attention that i asked for internal review on 11th november not the 16th.

Can i also draw to your attention that i asked you aswer this by today to allow me to include it as part of a report i am conducting.

I hope the reason for not conducting this internal review before now is relevent and appropreate

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Cant

I am aware that you asked for your internal review on 11 November. We will aim to deal with this within 20 working days, but there may be a delay now, because a number of staff have been affected by the recent bad weather and have not been able to get into the office for a number of days, so we are unlikely to be able to respond by 9 December, as we would have hoped. I will keep you informed.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Dear Foi Officer,

Can i ask, whats causing the delay.

You say that your staff have been unable to get in to the office but i dont understand how that would affect the internal review,

The review is just about your dissision. So i am asking you explain this further deaqly a bit more clearly. Exactly whatr has caused the delay ?

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Cant

Because people have not been able to get into the office, they have a backlog of work to deal with.
We will endeavour to get a reply to you before the end of next week.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

First the bad weather, then Xmas, then New Year and before you know it it will be Easter before this gets resolved. Most of the work LGO staff do could be done at home. Only one person carries out an internal review, something that could also be carried out at home.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cant

I attach a response to the request below.

I apologise for the delay in responding.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Dear Foi Officer,

You say

Information not held.

Are you saying that there was never any paperwork produced for this report, no drafts, no final. I didnt just ask for the final, i asked for all the paperwork so far and by your internal paperwork it would seem it was more or less ready a year ago

and

you say
------------------------------------------------
it would only cause confusion if any of the initial drafts were to be in the public domain, especially as the Ombudsmen will consult external bodies on the final draft. Such confusion would not serve the public interest,
-----------------------------------------------

You seem to be saying here that you have considered the public interest test and are saying no because;

it would confuse the public.

Thats someone expressing a very low opion of the public inteligents

the act says
----------------------------------------------------
Section 22 is subject to two important qualifications:
• it must be reasonable in all the circumstances to withhold the information until the date of publication
• the public interest test must be satisfied

it also says
---------------------------------------------------
Public authorities should not be able to avoid putting information in the public domain by adopting unreasonable publication timetables or an 'intention' to publish where there is little prospect of that happening within a reasonable timescale.

----------------------------------------------------

I have just read through that section of the act and lot of it seem pooint towards reasonable time scalse for publication. \It was seemingly nearly ready a year ago,

Finaly i would acsept this sent to my person email address and i will agree not to publish anything before you do.

I will go the the ICO

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

George the clue is in their response

"There has not been any correspondence between the Ombudsmen specifically concerning the `holding back' of the proposed special report on council tax and bankruptcy. There has been a delay in finalising and publishing this report, but that is not because there has been any conscious decision to `hold it back'."

The words "specifically concerning 'holding back'" means that there will be other information regarding the delay but no information about a conscious decision to hold it back.

Ask for any and all information regarding the delay in publication and any and all drafts of the document in question.

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

PS Don't forget to complain about their failure to undertake the internal review you requested.

George Cant left an annotation ()

Hi Trevor, yes i did notice the " specific denighal" and i may chase that once i have the report. Am more concerned about there @@assumption@@ that us public would be confused because there are a few copy's of the draft.

Its a very ignorant statement coming from on organisation that seemingly manipulates the figures they publish in relation to the targets they publish ( SS YORK )

Do you like my answer to there section 22 block. am half tempted to ask for a printout of the file attributes and edit dates.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Cant

As explained on the telephone yesterday, my response of 16 December was in response to your request made when you asked for an internal review of your original request. Your later request was for correspondence between the Ombudsmen's offices in relation to holding back the proposed special report on council tax and bankruptcy, and this is all I was responding to in my letter of 16 December.

The internal review of your original request is still ongoing. I am sorry for the delay.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

show quoted sections

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cant

I attach a letter in response to your review request. Our apologies for the time it has taken to response.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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George Cant left an annotation ()

there responce

4 December 2010

Mr George Cant

Via email ([FOI #51052 email])

Our ref: CS/10/139/ML

(Please quote our reference when contacting and, if using email,

please put the reference number in the email subject header)

Dear Mr Cant

I refer to your email dated 11 November 2010 requesting a review of Ms Pook's handling of your request for information under the FOIA 2000, lodged through the `whatdotheyknow' website.

Background:

In your initial request dated 4 November 2010 you sought information regarding `a special report...in relation to council tax and bankruptcy.' In particular you asked:

`1. Why was this not issued.

2. On who (sic) authority was it withheld (who made the decision)

3. How complete is the report

4. Can I have an electronic copy of the paperwork included in the report so far

5. Can I have an electronic copy of all the data, facts and figures you used or were using to compile this report.

6. How many enquiries from the media did you get in relation to this.'

You further explained:

`Am (sic) particularly interested in this statement.... “so could be a good opportunity to raise our profile and reinforce our advice and guidance role”.'

That was the entirety of your request.

In her response dated 10 November 2010, Ms Pook answered your points sequentially, explaining that:

1.

The report has not yet been published because the Ombudsmen have not yet agreed a draft, consulted on it, and then produced a final version.

/…

2.

The Ombudsmen.
3.

Several drafts have been produced, but a final draft has not yet been agreed.
4.

No. Because the report is only in draft, and the Ombudsmen have not yet agreed a final draft, I have decided not to disclose this information under the provisions of section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. Section 22 allows for refusal of requests for information intended for future publication. However, I am required to apply the public interest test when applying this exemption. This means that information must be released if the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it. As several drafts have been produced, and a final one has not yet been agreed, it would only cause confusion if any of the initial drafts were to be in the public domain, especially as the Ombudsmen will consult external bodies on the final draft. Such confusion would not serve the public interest, so I believe the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in releasing it.
5.

No. Any data used in compiling the report will be included, if it is material that can be published. Full details of Ombudsman cases will not be published if no Ombudsman report was issued, and some material used in compiling the report may be subject to copyright (but will therefore be available elsewhere).
6.

We may have had some enquiries from the media about the report - for example, asking when we might be publishing it - but we hold no records of these.

Review request:

On 11 November 2010 you asked for a review of Ms Pook's handling of your request. You have explained:

`...I do not agree with your reason for holding this back...This report was more or less finished over a year ago (sic) I don't agree that the public would be confused if they see the drafts, it may help the public see your reasoning.'

You then sought further information (namely `corrispondence' (sic)) that did not form part of your original request.

You also explained that:

`1. The report was withheld because the outcomes suggested do not match up with real world cases, at least in the prospective (sic) of the member of the public';

`You don't want to release this prior to the time that final applications can be sent in to the law commission in relation to the Law Commission review of your affectivness (sic)'; and

`...I suggest, it shows discrepancy of outcomes between ombudsman office (york Variance) in relation to handling these particular type of complaints.'

You concluded by requesting an internal review `ASAP so I can take it to the ICO.'

Review:

I have reviewed Ms Pook's response. As your additional request for correspondence (outlined above) is a new FOIA 2000 request, this review will only consider how your original request was handled.

For completeness, I would note that Ms Pook has already addressed your additional request in her letter dated 16 December 2010.

Review: Issues one, two, three and six

As the information you requested in relation to issues one, two, three and six (outlined above) was provided, there is no basis on which to question Ms Pook's handling of these aspects of your request.

Review: Issues four and five- `advice and guidance'

The Commission has a discretion to offer advice and guidance to local authorities on good administrative practice. The Special Report you are seeking, once finalised, will constitute such `advice and guidance'.

In formulating such Reports the Commission is required by legislation to undertake consultation with relevant organisations (see below). This process helps to inform any advice and guidance that is contained in a Special Report.

Examples of other Special Reports can be located from our website:

http://www.lgo.org.uk/publications/speci...

As you will see from the above link, these Reports:

*

Highlight our experience of handling complaints in particular areas (such as council tax and bankruptcy); and
*

Contain our recommendations on good practice.

The Reports are therefore of primary relevance to local authorities.

They are also of some interest to members of the public insofar as they highlight pervasive issues being encountered by local authorities and identify the Ombudsmen's position on those matters.

Review: Issues four and five

In refusing to provide information on these issues Ms Pook referred you to s22 FOIA 2000.

S22 FOIA 2000 allows for the refusal of requests for information intended for future publication.

This provision ensures that where a public authority intends to publish information in the future, individual FOIA 2000 requests will not dictate publication timetables or force publication prematurely (unless this is in the public interest).

The public interest test: factors in favour of disclosure

As identified above, the public interest factor in favour of release of the draft material (and `data, facts and figures' used to `compile' the draft) would be to highlight pervasive issues being encountered by local authorities.

You have also suggested that release of the draft would highlight a `discrepancy of outcomes between ombudsman office (sic)'.

As should be readily apparent in light of the explanation provided above, that suggestion misses the very nature of what Special Reports are and is therefore entirely irrelevant.

The public interest test: factors against disclosure

In considering the public interest Ms Pook has already explained that it would cause confusion to release a draft report (and `data, facts and figures' used to `compile' it) prematurely.

In addition to those sentiments, as you are already aware, everything we do is governed by the Local Government Act 1974.

By virtue of S23(12A) Local Government Act 1974 the Commission has to comply with pre-publication procedures. These procedures require the Commission to consult representative persons and authorities before providing advice and guidance about good administrative practice.

Therefore not only would premature release of this data be in contravention of S23(12A) Local Government Act 1974, it would also undermine the consultation we are required to undertake with relevant organisations (such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and The Insolvency Service).

That would ultimately be to the detriment of final Report, as it would influence and prejudice the consultative process that informs advice and guidance that will be provided.

The public interest test: conclusion

Keeping in mind that the Commission aims to publish this Report in 2011 (after it has consulted relevant organisations) I agree with Ms Pook's application of s22 FOIA 2000.

Accordingly whilst we will be providing this information in the future, it would not be appropriate to release it prematurely.

This concludes the Commission's handling of this matter. If you consider that I have not dealt with your request properly you can raise the matter with the Information Commissioner (www.ico.gov.uk).

Yours sincerely

Mark Lant

http://www.crazycouncil.co.uk/

Dear Foi Officer,

I have read and studied your responce and i feel that you have not complied with the act appropreatly. The act states that yuo should not have unreasonable publishing proceedures

you also state
------------------------------------------------------
You have also suggested that release of the draft would highlight a `discrepancy of outcomes between ombudsman office (sic)'.

As should be readily apparent in light of the explanation provided above, that suggestion misses the very nature of what Special Reports are and is therefore entirely irrelevant.

-----------------------------------------------------

I did not ask for the report to be any more compleated than it is, i am asking for what you have so far. I dont understand why you seem to be suggesting that an FOI request for this report would be irrelivent ? in whos opionion, yours or the publc ?.

So to the ICO AGAIN with you becasue you dont seem to be applying the exceptions resonably.

What considerations have you goven the public interest test ? Also, you can redact anything from your 'consultance contribution ' ( although i am sure that the insolvace service and cab would not object ( i will check with them )

http://www.crazycouncil.co.uk/

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Dear Foi Officer,

Case Reference Number FS50367861

i am asking you to explain something about this still

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Cant

I see you have an Information Commissioner's reference number for this, but we have not heard from the ICO about it.
As far as we are concerned, this case is closed. I responded to your initial request, and Mark Lant responded to your review request.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager | DL: 020 7217 4734 |
Local Government Ombudsman's office | 10th Floor |
Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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Dear Foi Officer,

i will chasae the ICO up for this.

Yours sincerely,

George Cant

Rhys Bevan, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

14 Attachments

Dear Mr Cant,

 

I write further to your Freedom of Information Request regarding the
Council Tax and Bankruptcy Report. Please see the attached letter and
accompanying enclosures.

 

I trust this is sufficient for your purposes.

 

Please acknowledge safe receipt.

 

Kind regards,

 

Rhys Bevan

Legal Assistant | DL: 020 7217 4745 |

10th Floor | Millbank Tower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |

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Jean James left an annotation ()

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