Notice to Improve Improvement action plans

Mr Cross made this Freedom of Information request to Skills Funding Agency

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 refused by Skills Funding Agency.

Dear Skills Funding Agency,
Please can you provide me with a copy of the "Notice to Improve Improvement action plans" data set described here:

http://data.gov.uk/dataset/notice-to-imp...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Cross

Freedom of Information,

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your request received on Saturday 3 January.

Firstly I should advise that the Office of the Chief Executive of Skills Funding is not a public authority specified with legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. However, we seek to handle requests for information in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

You have requested the following information:

"Please can you provide me with a copy of the "Notice to Improve Improvement action plans" data set described here:

http://data.gov.uk/dataset/notice-to-imp...

We will respond in accordance with the provisions of the Act and on or before 30 January.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Adviser
Skills Funding Agency

show quoted sections

Dear Information Rights Adviser,
You stated in your email of 7 January "... that the Office of the Chief Executive of Skills Funding is not a public authority specified with legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000."

Under Section 84 of the Act, "government department" includes: "any other body or authority exercising statutory functions on behalf of the Crown, " [subject to certain exceptions none of which are relevant here.] All government departments are subject to the Act under schedule 1.

Schedule 4 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 provides that: "The Chief Executive is to perform the functions of the office on behalf of the Crown." and sets out what those functions are. These are clearly statutory functions because they are set out in an Act of Parliament and they are clearly being performed on behalf of the Crown.

Please can you reconsider.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Russel Bailey, Skills Funding Agency

Dear Mr Cross

I refer to previous correspondence regarding the following request for information:

'a copy of the "Notice to Improve Improvement action plans" data set described here:

http://data.gov.uk/dataset/notice-to-imp...

The information described is no longer collected or held by the Agency. We also consider, on reviewing the reference that you have supplied, that such information would not have been held as a dataset or part of a dataset. We will therefore make arrangements for the reference to this information to be amended or removed to prevent further confusion.

Yours sincerely

Russel Bailey
Records, Rights and Business Continuity Manager
Office of the Chief Executive of Skills Funding

Dear Skills Funding Agency,
Thank you for your email. I would be interested to know whether or not you now consider yourself subject to FOI given my previous correspondence on this subject.

I would like you to carry out an internal review. If you do not hold the "Notice to Improve Improvement action plans" then how can you monitor whether the actions promised in these plans have been carried out? and if you don't monitor this then what was the point of collecting the plans?

I would like to search your records again to see if these are held and if they are not then I would like you to explain why they are not held.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Dear Russel Bailey,

Please can you update me as to the action taken following my request for an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Russel Bailey,

I am currently out of the office and will not have access to my email
until my return on 13 April 2015

If you are making a statutory request for information e.g. under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000, please forward your email to:
 
[email address]

 

Dear Skills Funding Agency,

Please can you update me on the action taken since my request for an internal review.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Cross

John Cross left an annotation ()

ICO response
--------------------------------
24 July 2015

Case Reference Number FS50587347

Dear Mr Cross

Your information request to the Skills Funding Agency

Thank you for your correspondence in relation to your information request to the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). Unfortunately, for the reasons set out below, we are not able to consider your complaint.

The ICO’s powers derive directly from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This places duties on public authorities to respond to requests for information. The definition of a ‘public authority’ is given in section 3 of FOIA. In responding to your request the SFA explained that it was not covered by this definition and it was therefore not under an obligation to consider your request in accordance with FOIA. In the interests of good practice though, the SFA does seek to handle information requests as if the legislation does apply. However, the overall effect of the SFA’s formal exclusion from FOIA is that we do not have the remit to investigate any complaint made against the SFA from a freedom of information perspective.

It is important to point out that the ICO has already been required to test the relationship between the SFA and FOIA as part of a previous complaint made to us. It may help if I briefly explain our findings on that case.

The SFA was established by the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 and is a successor agency to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which closed in 2010. The LSC was subject to FOIA. However, it appears that no provision was made under the enacting legislation to transfer the FOIA responsibilities to the SFA.

During our investigation it was noted that the SFA is listed as an executive agency of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Executive agencies will in most cases be classed as part of their parent government department for the purposes of FOIA and, by virtue of this, any information held by the executive agency would be brought within the reach of the legislation. However, the SFA is not a normal case. Executive agencies exercise functions on behalf of the Secretary of State and as such do not have a separate legal status. The SFA, by contrast, is a separate legal entity and exercises statutory functions and holds information in its own right.

The outcome of our considerations was that we decided the ICO could not enforce any obligations under FOIA because the SFA is not a public authority according to the section 3 definition. Transferring this principle across, the ICO would not be in a position now to pursue the issues you have brought to our attention and therefore the case will be closed.

I appreciate this will be disappointing but I trust my letter has clearly demonstrated why no further action can be taken by the ICO on this matter.

If we can be of any further assistance please contact me on the number below or our Helpline on 0303 123 1113 quoting your case reference number. You may also find some useful information on our website at www.ico.org.uk.

Yours sincerely,

[name of case officer]
Case Officer
Information Commissioner's Office
Tel - 01625545595

John Cross left an annotation ()

Dear Mr [Case worker],

Thank you for your email. Under Section 84 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, "government department" includes: "any other body or authority exercising statutory functions on behalf of the Crown, ..." [subject to certain exceptions none of which are relevant here.] All government departments are subject to the Act by virtue of schedule 1.

Schedule 4 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 provides that: "The Chief Executive [of Skills Funding] is to perform the functions of the office on behalf of the Crown." and sets out what those functions are. These are clearly statutory functions because they are set out in an Act of Parliament and they are clearly being performed on behalf of the Crown.

This explains why the authority did not need to be added to schedule 1 even though its predecessor was listed in Schedule 1.

Please reconsider.

regards,

[requester]

John Cross left an annotation ()

Dear Mr [caseworker],

Further to my email below, Section 64 of the Deregulation Act 2015 appears to have abolished the post of Chief Executive of Skills Funding transferring the property, rights and liabilities to the Secretary of State. In any event the Agency remains part of government and was subject to FOI when I made my request.

regards,

[requester]

Mr Cross left an annotation ()