Schools counselling contract awarded to Catholic Children’s Society

The request was refused by Richmond upon Thames Borough Council.

Dear Richmond upon Thames Borough Council,

Please could you provide a copy of the contract awarded to the Catholic Children’s Society for the provision of counselling services in schools.

In addition (and even if you cannot provide the contract for whatever reason) can you provide a copy of the documents that set out how the contract will be monitored throughout its term, with particular reference to ensuring that the Catholic Children’s Society are providing the services equally and in an unbiased manner to all children.

Yours faithfully,

Mr D Armstrong

Rebecca Turner, Richmond upon Thames Borough Council

[FOI #69004 email]
OurRef: L/RT/e11544

Dear D Armstrong
Thank you for your request for information received on 15 April 2011.
Your request is being considered and the information will be provided
within the 20 working day statutory timescale, this is subject to the
information not being exempt or containing reference to any third party.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 defines a number of exemptions, if any
of these exemptions apply to the information you have requested then the
information may not be released. You will be informed if this is the case
along with details of your right to appeal.

The application of an exemption may mean that the information you have
requested may take longer to provide than the 20 working day limit. If
this is the case you will be notified in writing along with the additional
time required to consider your application.

If the information you have requested contains references to a third party
then they may have to be consulted before the information can be released.
If this is the case you will be notified in writing.

If you have any queries please contact me.
Regards

Miss Rebecca Turner
Data Protection & Information Officer

Legal and Electoral Services Department
T:020 8891 7948
F:020 8891 7733
E: [email address]
<[1]mailto:[email address]>

Iken Document Number [582678]

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Rebecca Turner, Richmond upon Thames Borough Council

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OurRef: L/RT/e11544

Dear Mr Armstrong,

Please find attached our response to your request for information:

Yours Sincerely,

Rebecca Turner
Data Protection & Information Officer

Legal and Electoral Services Department
T:020 8891 7948
F:020 8891 7733
E: [email address]
<[1]mailto:[email address]>

Iken Document Number [595241]

<<e11544 - Armstrong.doc>>

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or disclose the contents, but must delete it from your system and inform
the sender of the error. You should be aware that all emails received and
sent by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames may be stored or
monitored, or disclosed to authorised third parties, in accordance with
relevant legislation.

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John Robertson left an annotation ()

Legal and Electoral Services
Rebecca Turner
Data Protection & Information Officer
t) 020 8891 7948
e) xxxxxxx.xxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx.xx
f) 020 8891 7733
Text phone 020 8891 7804
Our Ref: L/RT/e11544
18 May 2011

Dear Mr Armstrong,
RE: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

Thank you for your email dated 15 April 2011 requesting, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’), information regarding the provision of counselling services to school aged children within the borough.
In line with section 1(1) of the Act, I can confirm that we do hold the information requested. I will deal with each of your points in the order that you raise them:
• Please could you provide a copy of the contract awarded to the Catholic Children’s Society for the provision of counselling services in schools

We consider this information exempt under s 43(2) (Commercial Interests).

Section 43(2) provides that information is exempt if its disclosure under the Act would, or would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including the public authority holding it. We have applied this exemption on the basis that to disclose the requested information would be likely to harm the commercial interests of the Catholic Children’s Society (CCS) and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT). The primary reason being; that the contract has not yet been executed.

As section 43(2) is a qualified exemption, we are obliged to consider the public interest test set out in section 2(2)(b) of the Act.

It is clear that there are general arguments in favour of disclosure, in order to encourage accountability and transparency of Public Authorities in the decisions taken by them and in the spending of public money. However, these considerations must be balanced against the public interest in maintaining the exemption.

The Information Tribunal has established that in order to engage this exemption, it is not sufficient for a public authority to speculate on the behalf of third parties (in this instance – CCS). Any arguments about prejudice to a third party’s interests must originate from the third party itself . We have consulted with CCS and they have confirmed that they strongly object to the disclosure as it would have a negative impact upon their commercial interests. As the SLA is only for one year, they will have to submit a similar tender again in less than a year. To release this information now would prejudice CCS's quotes and tenders for work of this type.

Additionally, we consider that the disclosure of the contract before it is even executed is commercially sensitive and its release potentially more prejudicial to LBRuT at the current time; as the service procured through this tendering round and the contract awarded is for a one year period only. In all likelihood, these services will be re-tendered and the procurement process will begin again soon. At the point of re-tendering, bidders could use the current contract as a model and this would be likely to stifle innovation, leading to reduced competition and increased costs. For this reason, we further consider it would be likely for disclosure to prejudice the interests of other local authorities tendering for similar contracts in the future.

There is also the possibility that such a disclosure could leave the Council open to potential claims for breach of confidence. This would in turn affect the Council’s commercial interests in defending such claims and mitigating against possible compensation payouts.

We have therefore concluded that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

• In addition (and even if you cannot provide the contract for whatever reason) can you provide a copy of the documents that set out how the contract will be monitored throughout its term, with particular reference to ensuring that the Catholic Children’s Society are providing the services equally and in an unbiased manner to all children.

Please be advised that the Act provides for access to information not documents . Therefore, please find a direct extract from the service specification, which states the performance monitoring criteria:

“The provider is expected to produce quarterly reports and these will be discussed with the provider at quarterly monitoring meetings with a designated lead officer from the Borough Council.

Quarterly Reporting

The quarterly report has to contain the following and also include cumulative data:-

Referrals
 Number of children/young people referred into the service in the quarter
 Breakdown of the referral Source
 Age/sex/ethnicity profile of children/young people being referred
 Post code breakdown of children referred

Treatment
 Number of children/young people accessing the service
 Average number of times seen
 Total number of counselling session provided in the quarter
 Total number of children/young people using the service in the quarter
 Length of wait list in each weeks and number waiting
 Number and % of parents involved in service
 Breakdown of issues being treated
 Assessment of the impact of the service in terms of improvement in well being of child/young person
 Number discharged per quarter
 Number of children referred on to other services and a breakdown of these services where appropriate
 DNA rate

Annual Report

An annual report is also required - this will include the above and also include

Outcomes
 Outcome of counselling using a recognised tool
 Two case studies

Service Planning
 Evidence of engaging service users in planning, delivery and evaluation of the programme
 Referral trends
 Service user satisfaction”

I do hope that this response satisfies your request. If you have any further queries, please contact us.

You have the right of appeal against the decision. If you wish to appeal please set out in writing your grounds of appeal and send to the Information Lawyer, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ. Tel: 020 8891 7948. E-mail: xxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx.xx
[...appeal via ico]

Yours sincerely
Rebecca Turner
For Head of Legal and Electoral Services

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