Organisations that have withdrawn from offering Mandatory Work Activity placements

Frank Zola made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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 Department for Work and Pensions.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Since the introduction of the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme and the ICO Decision Notice FS50438037 http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/... that directs the DWP to disclose the names of MWA work placement providers, please disclose the names of those organisations that withdrawn from offering MWA work placements since it's inception.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Zola

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

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

1 Attachment

Dear Frank Zola

Please see attached letter regarding your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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

Our Ref: VTR3460

Dear Frank Zola,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 7 September 2012. You asked:

Since the introduction of the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme and the ICO Decision Notice FS50438037 http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/... that directs the DWP to disclose the names of MWA work placement providers, please disclose the names of those organisations that withdrawn from offering MWA work placements since it's inception.

The information you seek is being withheld because it is exempt from disclosure.

The exemption at section 43(2) of the FoI Act applies if disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of the Department or its contracted suppliers.

There is evidence on a number of websites of threats to compromise the delivery of this and other Government employment programmes. Tactics include protestors taking part in demonstrations both inside and outside retail outlets and fast food restaurants, threats of boycotts and numerous internet campaigns both on social networking sites and sites set up specifically to incite behaviour such as ‘’boycott workfare’’. This has caused some employers to withdraw their active support for the Government’s employment programmes and resulted in commercial detriment to the relevant providers under contract to DWP. This also compromises the Department’s ability to secure best value for money for the taxpayer when these contracts are re-tendered.

This information is also exempt under section 36(2) (c) of the Act which protects information which, if released, would be likely to damage the effective conduct of public affairs.

It is clear that a minority of people appear to be seeking to undermine the goodwill of employers who are prepared to offer opportunities to unemployed people by attempting to damage the reputation and standing of those companies.

On balance the Department is satisfied that the public interest in maintaining the exemptions referred to above outweigh the public interest in disclosure.

As referred to in your request, The Information Commissioner issued a ruling on 30 August disagreeing with the Department’s stance to withhold the list of organisations which provide work placements under our Mandatory Work Activity scheme

The majority of the public, including job seekers, support the Government’s back to work policies. However, there is a small minority whose websites aim to thwart back to work schemes by targeting employers to discourage them from participating.

The Department applied an exemption from disclosure which protects the release of information which is likely to harm the delivery of public affairs.

The Information Commissioner agreed that this exemption was engaged but that in his view the competing public interest arguments supported disclosure.

The Department disagrees with the Commissioner’s conclusion. It is in the wider public interest to challenge this ruling and the Department therefore lodged its appeal with the First Tier Tribunal on 27 September.
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

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Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk

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