Virgin Care children's services settlement

Liam Ward made this Freedom of Information request to Surrey County Council

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 successful.

Dear Surrey County Council,

In reference to the settlement agreed between six Surrey CCGs, Surrey County Council and Virgin Care and a legal case over the commissioning of £82m worth of children's services contracts. As reported here, by HSJ: https://www.hsj.co.uk/commissioning/comm...

It has been reported that one of the CCGs involved in the case (NHS Surrey Downs CCG) paid a 'liability' in this case was £328,000 - the amount of money from the CCG paid to Virgin Care to settle the case.

With that in mind, can you provide the answer to the following questions (which are very much in the public interest in that they deal with taxpayers' fund and public service provision):

1. Can you confirm what liability the County Council has incurred and that that sum will/has been paid to Virgin Care as part of the settlement?
2. How was the settlement reached?
3. Why was the case not pursued until completion?
4. Where has/will liability amount come from? What budget stream?
5. What was the total sum paid to Virgin Care in the settlement - by all of the Surrey CCGs and Surrey County Council?
6. Why were Virgin Care not granted the contract in the first place?

Yours faithfully,

Liam Ward

FOI/COR/SCC, Surrey County Council

Dear Mr Ward

YOUR REQUEST REF NO. 17692 UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

Thank you for your request for information received on the 1 December 2017. Your request reference is as above.

We will respond to your request promptly and in any event within 20 working days from the date of receipt of your request. If you wish to contact me to discuss the progress of your request, please use the contact details given below and quote the reference number given above.  

Regards

Helen Gilbert
Commons Registration Officer
Legal, Democratic & Cultural Services
(Mon - Thurs 9am to 3pm)

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services  | Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames | Surrey | KT1 2DN
Tel: 020 8541 8935 | Email: [email address] | GCSx email for [OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE]: [email address]

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FOI/COR/SCC, Surrey County Council

Dear Mr Ward

 

YOUR REQUEST REF NO.17692  UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

 

Please note that the Council has identified that we may be unable to
respond to your request within the 20 working days deadline indicated in
our acknowledgement of your request.

 

This is because we have identified that the following Freedom of
Information Act 2000 exemptions may apply to the requested information and
we require more time to consult all parties potentially affected by the
disclosure of the information you have requested and to consider the
public interest test with respect to the disclosure of this information:

 

·        Section 22 – Intended for future publication

·        Section 43(2) – Commercial Interests

 

We now expect to be able to provide our response to your request by 15
January 2018.

 

We will ensure that we keep you updated with respect to the status of your
request.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact should you wish to discuss the matter
further.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Mrs Mary J Elliott

Freedom of Information Officer

Legal, Democratic and Cultural Services

(Mondays to Thursdays)

 

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services |
Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames
| Surrey | KT1 2DN

Tel: 020 8541 7969 | Email: [1][Surrey County Council request email]

 

 

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Dear FOI/COR/SCC,

I look forward to receiving your reply.

However, I am concerned both by the nature of the exemptions you're already flagging that you intend to invoke and how they contradict each other.

First, the public interest test would inevitably fall on the side of disclosure in a case where a public body has chosen to use public funds to settle a court case, whereby the details of that settlement have not already been made public. The NHS is still a publicly accountable organisation and it must remain open and transparent to keep the public's trust.

Secondly, how exactly can it be claimed that the information is too commercially sensitive to publish yet exempt from publication because it is intended to be published at a later date? Those two reasons for exemption, the ignorance of the public interest test aside, are in direct contradiction.

Yours sincerely,

Liam Ward

Mary Elliott LDC, Surrey County Council

Dear Mr Ward

 

Further to my email below, we are still not in a position to respond and
now anticipate that we should be able to respond by 31 January 2018.

 

Regards

 

Mary Elliott

 

Mrs Mary J Elliott

Freedom of Information Officer

Legal, Democratic and Cultural Services

(Mondays to Thursdays)

 

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services |
Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames
| Surrey | KT1 2DN

Tel: 020 8541 7969 | Email: mary.elliott@[1]surreycc.gov.uk | GCSX
email: [2][email address] for protectively marked
content [OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE]

 

 

From: Mary Elliott LDC On Behalf Of FOI/COR/SCC
Sent: 21 December 2017 16:37
To: '[FOI #449841 email]'
<[FOI #449841 email]>
Subject: YOUR REQUEST REF NO. 17692 UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
2000

 

Dear Mr Ward

 

YOUR REQUEST REF NO.17692  UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

 

Please note that the Council has identified that we may be unable to
respond to your request within the 20 working days deadline indicated in
our acknowledgement of your request.

 

This is because we have identified that the following Freedom of
Information Act 2000 exemptions may apply to the requested information and
we require more time to consult all parties potentially affected by the
disclosure of the information you have requested and to consider the
public interest test with respect to the disclosure of this information:

 

·        Section 22 – Intended for future publication

·        Section 43(2) – Commercial Interests

 

We now expect to be able to provide our response to your request by 15
January 2018.

 

We will ensure that we keep you updated with respect to the status of your
request.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact should you wish to discuss the matter
further.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Mrs Mary J Elliott

Freedom of Information Officer

Legal, Democratic and Cultural Services

(Mondays to Thursdays)

 

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services |
Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames
| Surrey | KT1 2DN

Tel: 020 8541 7969 | Email: [3][Surrey County Council request email]

 

 

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2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[Surrey County Council request email]

Dear Mary Elliott LDC,

Your response is long overdue. Please advise.

Yours sincerely,

Liam Ward

Mary Elliott LDC, Surrey County Council

Please note that I am now out of the office and will respond to your email
upon my return to the office on Monday 5 February 2018.

 

If you need to contact someone before I return please email
[Surrey County Council request email] and one of my colleagues will be pleased to assist.

 

Thank you.

 

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Mary Elliott LDC, Surrey County Council

Dear Mr Ward

Thank you for your email.

I am writing to inform you that we are still processing your request and are therefore unable to provide our response to your request within the deadline we had previously identified. Please accept our apologies for the delay and for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please be assured that we are in the process of formulating our response and we now expect to be able to provide our response to your request or a further update by the 19th February 2018.

Regards

Mary Elliott

Mrs Mary J Elliott
Freedom of Information Officer
Legal, Democratic and Cultural Services
(Mondays to Thursdays)

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services | Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames | Surrey | KT1 2DN
Tel: 020 8541 7969 | Email: [email address] | GCSX email: [email address] for protectively marked content [OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE]

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Mary Elliott LDC, Surrey County Council

Dear Mr Ward

 

I am writing to inform you that we are still processing your request and
are therefore unable to provide our response to your request within the
deadline we had previously identified.  Please accept our apologies for
the delay and for any inconvenience this may have caused.  Please be
assured that we are in the process of formulating our response and we now
expect to be able to provide our response to your request or a further
update by the 5^th March 2018. 

 

Regards

 

Mary Elliott

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Mary J Elliott

Freedom of Information Officer

Legal, Democratic and Cultural Services

(Mondays to Thursdays)

 

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services |
Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames
| Surrey | KT1 2DN

Tel: 020 8541 7969 | Email: mary.elliott@[1]surreycc.gov.uk | GCSX
email: [2][email address] for protectively marked
content [OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE]

 

 

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1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]

Dear Surrey County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Surrey County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Virgin Care children's services settlement'.

I have been patiently waiting through delay and delay with no end in sight, it is time for an internal review into this decision-making process because you certainly hold the information.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/v...

Yours faithfully,

Liam Ward

FOI/COR/SCC, Surrey County Council

Dear Mr Ward

 

YOUR REQUEST REF NO. 17692 UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

We have considered your request which was for the information set out
below.

 

In reference to the settlement agreed between six Surrey CCGs, Surrey
County Council and Virgin Care and a legal case over the commissioning of
£82m worth of children's services contracts. As reported here, by HSJ:
https://www.hsj.co.uk/commissioning/comm...

It has been reported that one of the Councils involved in the case (NHS
Surrey Downs CCG) paid a 'liability' in this case was £328,000 - the
amount of money from the Council paid to Virgin Care to settle the case.

With that in mind, can you provide the answer to the following questions
(which are very much in the public interest in that they deal with
taxpayers' fund and public service provision):

1. Can you confirm what liability the County Council has incurred and that
that sum will/has been paid to Virgin Care as part of the settlement?

 

We do hold the information you have requested.  However this information
is exempt from disclosure under section 22 of the FOIA which relates to
information intended for future publication.  This is because the a
decision had been taken that the specific information requested would be
published as part of our 2017/18 Statement of Accounts due to be published
in July 2018. 

 

Please see below for further details regarding the rationale for the
exemption being engaged and for a summary of the public interest test
completed with respect to the application of this qualified FOIA
exemption.

 

 

2. How was the settlement reached?

 

We do hold the information you have requested.  However, this information
is exempt from disclosure under:  

 

·        Section 42 of the FOIA as it is subject to legal professional
privilege 

·        Section 43(2) of the FOIA as it is likely to cause prejudice to
the commercial interests of the Council and others

 

Please see below for further details regarding the rationale for these
exemptions being engaged and for a summary of the public interest test
completed with respect to the application of these qualified FOIA
exemptions.

 

 

3. Why was the case not pursued until completion?

 

We do hold the information you have requested.  However, this information
is exempt from disclosure under:  

 

·        Section 42 of the FOIA as it is subject to legal professional
privilege 

·        Section 43(2) of the FOIA as it is likely to cause prejudice to
the commercial interests of the Council and others

 

Please see below for further details regarding the rationale for these
exemptions being engaged and for a summary of the public interest test
completed with respect to the application of these qualified FOIA
exemptions.

 

 

4. Where has/will liability amount come from? What budget stream?

 

We do hold the information you have requested. 

 

The Council’s Central Income & Expenditure budget. 

 

5. What was the total sum paid to Virgin Care in the settlement - by all
of the Surrey CCGs and Surrey County Council?

 

We do hold the information you have requested.  However this information
is exempt from disclosure under section 22 of the FOIA which relates to
information intended for future publication.  This is because the a
decision had been taken that the specific information requested would be
published as part of our 2017/18 Statement of Accounts due to be published
in July 2018. 

 

Please see below for further details regarding the rationale for the
exemption being engaged and for a summary of the public interest test
completed with respect to the application of this qualified FOIA
exemption.

 

6. Why were Virgin Care not granted the contract in the first place?

We do hold the information you have requested.  However, this information
is exempt from disclosure under:  

 

·        Section 42 of the FOIA as it is subject to legal professional
privilege 

·        Section 43(2) of the FOIA as it is likely to cause prejudice to
the commercial interests of the Council and others

 

Please see below for further details regarding the rationale for these
exemptions being engaged and for a summary of the public interest test
completed with respect to the application of these qualified FOIA
exemptions.

 

Section 22 - information intended for future publication

 

At the time the settlement was entered into, the Council and other parties
potentially affected understood that details of this (including the
specific information requested) would be published as part of the
statutory disclosures and supporting notes included within our 2017/18
Statement of Accounts, in accordance with applicable public sector
financial reporting requirements.  We expect our 2017/18 Statement of
Accounts to be publicly available via our website in July 2018.    

 

The Council considers that it is reasonable, in all the circumstances, to
at this time withhold the information until the intended date of
publication on the following basis:

 

·        The settlement agreement was prepared on the basis that the
disclosure of the financial consequences of the settlement would take
place in accordance with our normal financial reporting business
practices, which reflect applicable statutory requirements, and disclosure
outside this would undermine the legitimate expectations following the
settlement 

·        any figures disclosed in response to this request would not have
been subject to any independent examination and audit and may therefore
differ to those which are subsequently published within the Statement of
Accounts  

·        the intended date of publication (July 2018) is set and is not
distant

·        the information does not affect the running of the current
contract and so its utility in demonstrating transparency and
accountability will not be diminished by waiting for the planned
publication date

 

Section 42 - Legal Professional Privilege 

 

The reasons for the settlement of the claim are contained within legal
advice to the Council.  Such information is subject to legal professional
privilege and so is exempt under section 42 of the FOIA.

 

Section 43(2) – commercial interests

 

The Council has consulted parties that may potentially be affected by the
disclosure of the requested information and is satisfied that that the
disclosure of the information at this time would be likely to prejudice or
harm the commercial interests of the Council and other parties potentially
affected; including other commissioners.   In particular, the following
matters mean that commercial prejudice is likely;

 

·        Publication of detailed information relating the analysis of risk
and the commercial reason leading to the settlement would be likely to
increase risks of challenges to other similar procurement exercises
undertaken and ultimately lead to additional costs for commissioners.  

·        The disclosure of the requested information may also affect the
ability of the Council and other commissioners to negotiate future
disputes relating to public sector procurement exercises, in a way that
leads to the best possible use for public funds.  This is because the
disclosure of the requested information it may give third parties involved
an unfair competitive advantage in these disputes by revealing the
Councils position on potentially contentious issues.

·        The disclosure of detailed information in response to this
request would be likely affect the ability to other commissioners of
public sector services to obtain best value for money when procuring
services, as its disclosure would be likely to stifle innovation in the
delivery of public services and lead to less competition and/or limit the
development of novel approaches producing better value for money in the
use of public funds

·        Disclosure in advance of the planned release contemplated at the
time of the settlement agreement will increase the likelihood of the
Council being drawn into further disputes arising out of the settlement
agreement, with associated further usage of public funds.

 

Public Interest Balancing Test

 

The Council has considered public interest arguments in favour of
disclosure of the requested information at this time and recognises that
disclosure of the requested information may:

 

·        allow individuals to understand decisions made by the Council
regarding the services we commission, which affect the lives of Guildford
and Waverley residents

·        assist in demonstrating accountability and transparency with
respect to our usage of public funds

·        assist in understanding the settlement and reasons for the same

 

The Council also bears in mind that some information relating to the
request is already in the public domain.

 

However, the Council has also considered the following matters:

 

·        With regard to the section 42 exemption, there is a very strong
public interest in preserving legal professional privilege and
safeguarding absolute candour in all communications between lawyer and
client to ensure access to free and frank legal advice.  The information
requested includes legal advice which is recent and which relates to a
live ongoing matter.  

·        The matters considered by the Council when considering whether it
is reasonable to wait until the planned publication date under section 22
above are equally relevant when considering where the balance of public
interest lies when considering that exemption.

·        The detailed information requested will be included in the
Council’s Statement of Accounts which will be publicly available in July
2018

·        The planned publication is likely to meet the need transparency
and accountability and demonstrating value for money in the use of public
funds, and the likelihood of commercial prejudice is likely to be
significantly reduced if the planned publication date is kept.

·        There will be no change in the utility of the information if
publication is delayed until the planned date.

 

We apologise for the delay and any inconvenience caused.  Please do not
hesitate to contact me at the above address if you have any queries
regarding the information supplied.  Remember to quote the reference
number above in any future communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the handling of your request for information and
wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision, in the first
instance you should contact the County Council, quoting your request
number given above, at:

 

Freedom of Information Officer

Surrey County Council

Legal & Democratic Services

County Hall

Penrhyn Road

Kingston upon Thames

Surrey

KT1 2DN

[Surrey County Council request email]

 

If you are not satisfied by the County Council’s response to your
complaint, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for
a decision.  The Information Commissioner will normally expect you to have
exhausted our complaints procedure.  The Information Commissioner can be

contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Mrs Mary J Elliott

Freedom of Information Officer

Legal, Democratic and Cultural Services

(Mondays to Thursdays)

 

Corporate Information Governance Team (Room 138) |  Democratic Services |
Surrey County Council | County Hall | Penrhyn Road | Kingston upon Thames
| Surrey | KT1 2DN

Tel: 020 8541 7969 | Email: [1][Surrey County Council request email]

 

 

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