IBI Corr

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please provide copies of all correspondence relating to Infected Blood Compensation sent to or received by the below persons (including any attachments) during the period 1st October 2022 - 3rd January 2023.

1) Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions

Yours faithfully,

JJ Evans

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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1 Attachment

Dear JJ Evans,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) request received on 3rd
January You asked for:

"Please provide copies of all correspondence relating to Infected Blood
Compensation sent to or received by the below persons (including any
attachments) during the period 1st October 2022 - 3rd January 2023.

1) Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions"

We do hold information falling within the terms of your request; however,
we need more time to consider your request.

I wish to advise you that the following qualified exemptions apply to the
information that you have requested:

Section 35(1)(a) - Formulation of government policy

Section 35(1)(b) - Ministerial Communications

By virtue of section 10(3), where public authorities have to consider the
balance of the public interest in relation to a request, they do not have
to comply with the request until such a time as is reasonable in the
circumstances.

The Department has not yet reached a decision on the balance of the public
interest. Due to the need to consider, in all the circumstances of the
case, where the balance of the public interest lies in relation to the
information that you have requested, the Department will not be able to
respond to your request in full within 20 working days.

Accordingly, I hope to let you have a response as soon as possible but no
later than 28 February 2023.

The attached letter confirms the content of this email.

If you have any queries, please contact us quoting the reference number
above.

Yours sincerely,

Central FOI Team,
Department for Work and Pensions

freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gov.uk,

1 Attachment

Dear JJ Evans,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 3rd
January.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'IBI Corr'.

I am writing to request an Internal Review of your response to my FOIA request FOI2023/00058.

I do not wish to challenge the application of S40. I do, however, wish to challenge the applications of S35(1)(a) and S35(1)(b).

Firstly, To be exempt, the information must relate to the formulation or development of government policy. It is disputed that the information meets this test.

The ICO is clear that "the exemption does not cover information relating purely to the application or implementation of established policy. It is therefore important to identify where policy formulation or development ends and implementation begins."

The government has already accepted the moral case for compensation (Citation: HC Deb, 15 December 2022, c1249). Indeed, the government has already paid £100,000 in interim compensation payments to those infected still alive and bereaved partners. It is, therefore, incorrect to assert that the formulation of policy relates to the principle of Infected Blood compensation itself. It is far more likely the information requested refers to "the application or implementation of established policy". The information likely relates to what the Paymaster General referred to in the House of Commons as "taking forward work strands" relating to infected blood compensation.

As part of the public interest test, I do not believe enough weight, if any, has been given to the fact that many of those infected and affected by infected blood products do not think that the government is progressing with the established policy of paying compensation in relation to infected blood. Releasing this information would increase public confidence that the government is doing what it says it is doing. Furthermore, if the information shows the opposite, then the public interest favours the public knowing that is the case.

Even if it could be shown that some information is captured by S35, it is disputed that all of the information requested is captured by S35.

DWP makes arguments in relation to the Infected Blood Inquiry as a reason not to release the information. Firstly, The Infected Blood Inquiry (by virtue of the Inquiries act) is prevented from making criminal or civil liability findings. Secondly, the government asked Sir Robert Francis KC to undertake a compensation framework study some years ago, separately from the Infected Blood Inquiry. Sir Robert's independent study was delivered to the government almost one year ago and the Paymaster General informed the House of Commons in December 2022 that Sir Robert was advising the government on how best to introduce his compensation framework. It is not known, then, why DWP seeks to use the existence of the separate Infected Blood Inquiry to prevent disclosure.

"The term 'formulation' of policy refers to the early stages of the policy process". That is not where infected blood compensation is. Interim payments have been paid and the framework has existed for almost a year. Infected blood compensation is in the implementation stage.

The term "framework" is specifically used by the ICO in their guidance. Given Sir Robert has delivered the compensation framework to the government a year ago, this is of particular significance: "In this context, the policy can be seen as a framework of ‘rules’ put in place to achieve a particular objective. This framework sets in stone some fundamental details, but also inevitably leaves more detailed decisions to be made by those implementing the plan, thus giving some inbuilt flexibility on how it can be delivered. Any such adjustment or decision that can be made within this inbuilt flexibility – ie without altering the original objectives or rules – is likely to be an implementation decision rather than policy development."

Even if some information is shown to be captured by S35(1)(a), it does not mean that the same information is also covered by S35(1)(b) and vice versa.

It is disputed that release of the information would significantly undermine Ministerial unity and effectiveness or result in less robust, well-considered or effective Ministerial debates and decisions.

I again emphasise that Infected Blood compensation is at the implementation stage according to the guidance laid down by the ICO, not the formulation stage.

It is argued that even if S35(1)(b) applies to some of the information, the public interest will fall in favour of the disclosure of the information, mainly for the same reasons described above. Lack of transparency from the government is a significant factor in the story of infected blood, and so special and increased weight should be given to the disclosure of information in this area.

Yours faithfully,

JJ Evans

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear JJ Evans,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 14th
February.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Gone to ICO today.

Yours faithfully,

JJ Evans

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
 
This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received by the DWP Freedom of Information mailbox and will be
processed accordingly.
 
Please note that this mailbox is for Freedom of Information (FOI) or
Internal Review (IR) requests only – If you have submitted a non FOI or IR
related email then we may not be able to action it.
 
 
Timescales for responding
 
Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests
 
If your email is a valid FOI request, as per Section 8 of the FOI Act
2000, you can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Internal Review (IR) Requests
 
You can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
 
We will respond to all valid FOI and IR requests within our statutory
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why. Please note that we are not able to process your FOI or IR request in
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2 Attachments

Dear JJ Evans,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 3rd
January.

Please find attached a revised response and supporting documents.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team