FOI reference: FOI/18/00125
Date received: 4 January 2018
Date responded: 1 February 2018
Copies of the annual reports and quarterly performance reports submitted to the Scottish Government by each of the three approved tenancy deposit schemes in Scotland since their inception.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
The Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 require scheme administrators to send a report to the Scottish Ministers - the annual report – as described in Regulation 45, subsections 1 and 2 a) through h).
In response to your request I attach annual report information for the three approved schemes in relation to Regulation 45, subsection 2:
a) the number of tenancy deposits paid to the scheme
b) the total value of tenancy deposits held in designated accounts at the end of the financial year
c) the total value of tenancy deposits repaid to tenants
g) details of all referrals to the dispute resolution mechanism
h) details of any complaints received about the scheme
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 33 (1) (b) – Commercial interests - of FOISA applies to that information.
The exemption applies to your request for the annual report information relating to Regulation 45 (2):
d) statement of the financial position of the scheme, including a set of independently audited accounts and a breakdown of income and expenditure during the financial year assessed against the projected income and expenditure for that year
e) a statement of how accrued interest has been distributed, applied or invested during the financial year
f) a forecast budget for the following financial year
This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of one or more of the tenancy deposit schemes operating in Scotland. While the schemes have been operating for five years now, there remains significant scope for further recruitment of deposit funds. Any disclosure of commercially sensitive information relating to the financial position of an individual scheme could provide a competitive advantage to one or more of the other schemes currently operating in Scotland with a consequential detrimental effect on the other scheme(s). This would fail the 'harm test'. In this instance, the damage caused by disclosing the commercially sensitive financial information could be of real and demonstrable significance, rather than simply marginal.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of the companies operating the tenancy deposit schemes in Scotland. We think release would cause real, actual and significant harm to commercial interests so it would not be in the public interest to release information.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House