16 March 2022
ATISN 16089 - JMH – Basic Income for Care Leavers – 16.02.2022
Thank you for your request which I received on 16 February 2022. You asked for:
- Where the funding for the Basic Income Pilot for Care Leavers will be coming from.
I can confirm that Welsh Government holds recorded information of this description. However, this information is exempt under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) - Information accessible to applicant by other means. Information regarding the budget for the Basic Income Pilot is in the public domain and can be found here Final Budget 2022 to 2023 | GOV.WALES
- The reasoning behind it, and the data to underpin it.
The Programme for Government 2021-2026 https://gov.wales/programme-government made a commitment to pilot a basic income scheme in Wales. The intention is to trial the approach and closely monitor the benefits throughout the trial period.
The Social Justice Ministers written statement published on 16 February sets out more detail - https://gov.wales/written-statement-basic-income-pilot-care-leavers-wales.
The Welsh Government uses data from a number of sources in the ongoing development of the Basic Income Pilot to both identify the potential cohort and to model payment levels. However, for the reasons provided in Annex A I have decided that this information is exempt from disclosure under section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act and is therefore withheld.
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,
or Email: Freedom.firstname.lastname@example.org
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Regarding the Basic Income Pilot, I can confirm the Welsh Government is fully committed to supporting those living in poverty, ensuring they receive adequate financial support so that everyone in Wales can live happy and healthy lives.
We strongly believe that care leavers have a right to be properly supported as they develop into independent young adults. Yet too many young people leaving care continue to face significant barriers to achieving a successful transition into adulthood that, in turn, make them more vulnerable to poverty.
The reason we propose working with this cohort over any other groups who typically face poverty and other forms of disadvantage, is to understand the unique challenges care leavers themselves face and whether extending the time they are supported could have a positive impact on their entry into adulthood. We will use these insights to test how cash payments and system re-engineering could better help them to live the kind of lives they want to lead.
The payment of £1,600 is broadly in line with the real living wage and will interact with the tax and benefits system. We intend this level of payment to make a significant and positive change to participant’s lives.
I would also like to provide reassurance that, once commenced, the Basic Income Pilot for care leavers will be subject to thorough evaluation. More detailed information will be made available to the public as part of this evaluation process.
This Annex sets out the reasons for the engagement of section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act and our subsequent consideration of the Public Interest Test.
The Freedom of information Act provides a right for anyone to ask a public authority to make requested information available to the wider public. As the release of requested information is to the world, not just the requester, public authorities need to consider the effects of making the information freely available to everybody. Any personal interest the requester has for accessing the information cannot override those wider considerations.
I have decided to withhold the following information:
• 'Reasoning behind the Basic Income Pilot and the data to underpin it.
Section 35(1) states (inter alia):
- Information held by a government department or by [F1the Welsh Assembly Government] is exempt information if it relates to:
- the formulation or development of government policy,
The information captured by the request relates to the formulation and development of the Basic Income Pilot, and includes: the scope of the pilot, payment level, financial modelling and cohort analysis.
Section 35 is a public interest tested exemptions. This means that in order to withhold information under it, it has to be shown that the public interest in withholding is greater than the public interest in releasing.
Public interest arguments in favour of disclosure
The Welsh Government acknowledges the general principle of openness and transparency that release of this information would engender. Further, we recognise that this is a new area of policy and will be of interest to many people in Wales.
Since the announcement of the Basic Income Pilot for Care Leavers there has been significant interest. This has included how the pilot may inform or influence the development of any future possible policy on Universal Basic Income (as opposed to using basic income as a mechanism to support a specific target group).
Public interest arguments in favour of withholding
We recognise that transparency and openness in the Welsh Government’s policy-making process improves public trust, however, we consider that it is important for ministers and officials to be able to have a safe space to undertake discussions and develop ideas. Releasing information at this point would be likely to prejudice the policy development and affect Welsh Governments ability to deliver the pilot.
We take the view that the section 35 exemption is intended to ensure that the possibility of public exposure does not deter from full, candid and proper deliberation of policy formulation and development.
Civil servants and subject experts need to be able to engage in the free and frank discussion of all the policy options internally, to expose their merits and demerits and their possible implications as appropriate. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the content of such discussion will be disclosed in the near future. Premature disclosure of information protected under section 35 could prejudice good working relationships, the neutrality of civil servants.
Also, disclosure of the documents relating to the methodology used in formulating a Welsh Government response is considered as being a qualitative assessment exchanged between ministries of government for the purpose of the formulation and development of policy report. Therefore, carries the risk that the content might be misinterpreted and as such disclosure would not provide the clarity that the public require.
In conclusion it is within the wider publics’ interest to withhold the information related to this request in order to provide the government with a safe space to develop the pilot. To that end we believe the balance of public interest favours the withholding of the information and that it should be exempted from release under s35 of the FOIA.