Tag Archives: Freedom of Information

Iain Duncan Smith is proud of this

Iain Duncan SmithIain Duncan Smith says:

This government has embarked on one of the most aggressive programmes of welfare reform Britain has ever seen, and we already have a proud record of achievement. There is no doubt that changes to the welfare state are desperately needed. Our reforms will put an end to people being left on sickness benefits year after year; they will eradicate the trap that has left so many better off on benefits than in work; and they will ensure the benefits bill is sustainable over the longer term.

For example, someone like Steve, permanently disabled since an accident thirteen years ago:

I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, severe pain in the lower back and neck and constantly have to have pain relief. My left leg is useless as a leg, and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware of where it is. My right leg is better but standing upright, for even a few seconds’ causes a massive increase in pain then, I collapse and have even passed out.
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Filed under Benefits, Disability, Poverty

Workfare in Scotland: FOI denied

On Saturday 3rd March the Boycott Workfare campaign plans a national, UK-wide, day of action against workfare – and I had been wondering why no locale for a demo had yet been announced for Edinburgh or Glasgow, both of which have healthy UKUncut groups. Though companies have been backing off from the scheme since it became clear that even Daily Mail readers were switching sides (in January, Jan Moir penned one of her vitriol-loaded columns dripping bile and acid on Cait Reilly for thinking that if Poundland wanted her to stack shelves they could pay her: only a month later the Mail runs an article asking why big companies like Poundland and Tesco are getting workers for free).

According to Stephen Naysmith at the Herald, the answer is horrifyingly simple – the DWP have decided not to tell us which companies and charities are making use of unpaid workers: Continue reading

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Filed under Benefits, Poverty, Scottish Culture, Supermarkets

Need to Know

“You don’t need to know” is a pernicious and provocative statement. It expresses arrogant authority: “I have the good judgement required to make my decision based on the facts. You don’t have that kind of judgement: you should just trust me.” Argue and this turns into a fight about why you are disrespecting the Authority by refusing to trust their good judgment, though the first act of disrespect was denying you the facts.

The Freedom of Information Act opens up all levels of public infomation to the public. The standard of the Freedom of Information Commissioners is that all information should be made available, with clearly specified exemptions to do with personal privacy and national security: there is a legal exemption if someone has asked for information that would be too expensive or too burdensome for a public body to provide, but they have to prove this to the Commissioner – they cannot simply tell you “too expensive, we won’t tell you”.

You don’t have to say why you want to know. You don’t have to prove “Need to know”. You don’t have to demonstrate that you have the good judgement to use the information wisely.

You are a member of the public. You want to know how a local authority or a public body arrived at a decision, or what they spent money on, or what was minuted at a meeting, or what the borrowing records are at your local libraries. The Freedom of Information Act says that wanting to know means you have a right to know.
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Filed under Healthcare, In The Media, Scottish Politics