FOI Review - Deaf Children/ Young People Budget

FOI Review 101003089956

The National Deaf Children's Society sent a request for a review:

Freedom of Information concern
On 28 February 2022, we sent you a Freedom of Information request asking for budgetary and staffing information on services for deaf children in Moray. I have attached a copy of the response for your reference. On 28 March you were sent a reminder to return the FOI as soon as possible.

The National Deaf Children’s Society is concerned that you have not handled our information request properly and formally request a review.
We received an initial response to the FOI on 30 March but there were outstanding questions which needed clarification. A clarification letter was sent to you on 14 April with a reminder on 11 May. We have not received any response to either the letter or the reminder. This means that we are not accurately able to report on the staffing and budgets for deaf children in Moray council to our members.
We are therefore not satisfied with the response from your council to our FOI request for the following reasons:
• The FOI has not been completed properly despite asking for clarification and sending a reminder for its return
We understand that before reporting my concern to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) we should give you the chance to deal with it.
If, when we receive your response, we would still like to report our concern to the Scottish Information Commissioner, we will give them a copy of it to consider.

Response 07-07-2022

Following your request for a review, a review into FOI Request - Deaf Children/ Young People Budget – 101003089956 was held on 1st July 2022. In attendance were the Records and Heritage Manager, Principal Teacher Sensory Education Service, Senior Solicitor, and Information Co-ordinator.

Our response to your original FOI request dated 28/02/2022, request for clarification dated 14/04/2022, and, request for a review dated 10/06/2022 were discussed.

We would like to apologise again for the delay in getting our initial response to you. This was partially due to changes in staff and COVID-related absences. Although the response had taken much longer than it was supposed to take, we would like to point out that council staff have been engaging with your organisation, including the original requestor, to provide information; such as for the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education (CRIDE) report, amongst others.

With regards to your request for clarification, we confirm that the higher figure of £7,776 is the correct figure and should have been entered for the response to the 2021 FOI request. This was an error on the Council's part, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused by this. Furthermore we confirm that staffing budget is not contained within the £7,776. The staffing budget is contained within the wider Additional Support Needs (ASN) budget and will be included as part of an upcoming review of the ASN service. As such, there are no up-to-date figures.

Some items in your request for clarification are statements rather than questions; nevertheless, in order to be helpful we should have pointed this out at the time and clarified if you wished to log these new questions are new requests. Specifically:
• A copy of the terms of reference for this review
• Details of what stages of the review have been completed and what stages are still to be undertaken
• All documentation relating to this review that is in the public realm
• Full reports or other details of the outcomes of the review
This was not recognised and communicated by our FOI Team at the time, due to changes in staff and COVID-related strain, nonetheless we apologise that this was not handled as we would normally expect. Please can you let us know if you would like us to treat the four points listed above as questions and therefore a new FOI request.

Although our staff have engaged with your organisation, these delays should not have occurred, and  we apologies for the errors that have occurred in the handling of your requests.

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