28 March 2022
Request for Information – ATISN 16120
I wrote to you on 11 March regarding your request for information on the hospitality grant budget.
How much of the emergency COVID business fund allocated budget is remaining.
I can confirm that the Welsh Government is committed to publishing information on the COVID business fund budget and outcome on our website. The total number of businesses supported and the value of their awards is planned for future publication on completion of the operational phase. Therefore, this information is exempt from disclosure under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Information Intended for Future Publication. Full reasoning for applying this exemption is appended at Annex A.
If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response. Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at: Information Rights Unit, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ or Email: Freedom.email@example.com. Please remember to quote the ATISN reference number above.
You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.
Section 22 – Information Intended for Future Publication
Section 22 states that Information is exempt information if –
- The information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not)
- The information was already held with a view to such publication at the time the request for information was made, and
- It is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph a).
I am of the opinion that subsections (a) and (b) above are met because the information is held with a view to its publication.
With regards to part (c), I have given consideration as to whether it would be ‘reasonable in all the circumstances’ that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the proposed publication date. I am of the opinion that releasing the information at this time would cause disruption to the Welsh Government’s intentions in relation to its publication arrangements and could potentially put unfinished, unchecked and potentially incorrect information into the public domain. Thus I am content that the exemption is engaged.
Section 22 is a public interest exemption. This means that, in order to withhold information, I must show that the public interest in withholding is greater than the public interest in releasing it.
In terms of the public interest, it is recognised that there is public interest in there being openness and transparency within Government.
The Welsh Government has committed to publishing information on the COVID business fund budget and outcome on our website. Once we have an accurate figure on final outturn data, we will be publishing the information in a co-ordinated manner to all people at the same time.
No specific allocation is made to Hospitality, the fund supports businesses in the retail, leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors. Delivery is still live and will support every eligible application. The total number of businesses supported and the value of their awards is planned for future publication on completion of the operational phase. At this stage it is difficult to provide an accurate figure on final outturn data although we anticipate that the full allocation noted in the initial press announcement will not be spent.
To that end, I do not think it is reasonable in all the circumstances or in the public interest to release this information prematurely. Rather, I believe the public interest would be best served if the information were released as scheduled along with all other transactions for that period.
I am satisfied therefore that the balance of the public interest falls in favour of withholding the information.