The Request (dated 17 April 2018)

Dear British Council,
 
I would be grateful if you could provide the following information in relation to the EU funded and British Council implemented MyJustice programme in Myanmar:
 
Salaries
* Number of staff and consultants (broken down into international and local)
* Total salaries/payments for international staff/consultants (i.e. including benefits);
* Total salaries for local staff/consultants;
* Number of staff/consultants receiving salaries/payments/benefits more than 60,000 GBP (gross) together with job titles
 
Core costs
* Total percentage of costs that are core to the grant i.e. salaries (staff and consultants), overheads and day-to-day running costs of the programme.
 
Grants
* Total number of grants given o local NGOs to date i.e. excluding organisations that are registered as iNGOs or that do not have registration as a local NGO. 
*Total figure for grants given to local NGOs to date i.e. excluding organisations that are registered as iNGOs or that do not have registration as a local NGO. 
 
Evaluative reports
* Copies of evaluative (narrative and financial) reports either annual (from start of the programme) or mid-term
 
Yours faithfully,
 
 

Our Response (dated 9 May 2018)

Dear 
 
Thank you for your request for information dated 17 April 2018 concerning the MyJustice programme in Myanmar. Your request has been handled under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 and has been passed to me for reply.
 
For your ease of reference, I have restated your request below in bold and have provided our response beneath each point.
 
Salaries
* Number of staff and consultants (broken down into international and local). 
The current number of staff and consultants working on this programme as well as the number of staff and consultants who have worked on the programme since its inception
 
* Total salaries/payments for international staff/consultants (i.e. including benefits);
The current salaries paid to international staff and current payments made to consultants as well as the total amount paid in salaries to staff to date and the total amount paid to consultants to date
 
* Total salaries for local staff/consultants;
The current salaries paid to staff/consultants as well as the total amount that has been paid in salaries to local staff/consultants to date
 
* Number of staff/consultants receiving salaries/payments/benefits more than 60,000 GBP (gross) together with job titles
The current number of staff/consultants receiving salaries/payments/benefits more than 60,000 GBP as well as the number of staff/consultants who have received more than 60,000 GBP since the programme’s inception
 
Core costs
* Total percentage of costs that are core to the grant i.e. salaries (staff and consultants), overheads and day-to-day running costs of the programme.
The total percentage of costs that have been core to the grant since the programme’s inception
 
We are withholding the salary information and core costs as the exemption under section 43 (Commercial interests) sub-section (2) applies. 
 
Section 43 (2) allows a public authority to withhold information where it would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including the public authority holding it.
 
Disclosure of this information would provide our competitors with valuable data about the British Council as we regularly compete with other commercial organisations for work in this field. If we were to release this information into the public domain those competitors would have a more favourable competitive approach when bidding for same sector tenders, which would prejudice our ability to compete fairly. A key component of calculating a price for our proposals is around staffing and core costs; as price is often a determining factor in the award of contracts, disclosure of this information into the public domain would provide our competitors with access to this information which they could use it to their advantage. 
 
The exemption for commercial interests is subject to the public interest test as stipulated by the Act, which means that the exemption can only be upheld if the public interest in doing so outweighs the public interest in disclosure. 
 
Whilst we acknowledge that there is a public interest in understanding British Council’s programmes and disclosure would facilitate transparency within our organisation, in this case the damage to our commercial interests that would be caused from disclosing this information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
 
We are also withholding the number of staff/consultants receiving salaries/payments/benefits of more than 60,000 GBP (gross) together with job titles under section 40 (Personal data) sub-section (2) 
 
Section 40(2) allows a public authority to withhold information relating to third parties if one of the conditions set out in section 40(3) is satisfied. Under the FOIA disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle contained in the Data Protection Act (DPA), where it would be unfair to that person or if it is confidential.
 
Disclosing the salaries along with the job titles would mean that the individual(s) can be identified. It would be unfair to the individual(s) if this information were released into the public domain. 
  
Section 40 is an absolute exemption therefore is not subject to the public interest test.
                         
Grants
* Total number of grants given o local NGOs to date i.e. excluding organisations that are registered as iNGOs or that do not have registration as a local NGO. 
 
*Total figure for grants given to local NGOs to date i.e. excluding organisations that are registered as iNGOs or that do not have registration as a local NGO. 
 
The British Council publishes a list of grants awarded under the MyJustice programme, including the locality of the recipient organisations, on an annual basis on our website (see link below). 
 
 
It is important to note that the MyJustice programme often awards grants to international organisations for the purposes of implementing projects in partnership with local NGO partners. Therefore, grants awarded to international NGOs are, in many cases, shared between the international NGO and a number of local NGOs. MyJustice does not hold information regarding the exact share of grant utilised by each partner.
Although the published list of grants will be updated later in 2018, in the interests of transparency, British Council provides the following details of four grants which have been awarded since the last annual update of the published list: 
 
Name and locality of the contractor or Grant Beneficiary Amount of the contract/project
Namati, INGO USD 304,776
Norwegian Refugee Council INGO Euro 643,990
BABSEACLE, INGO Euro 299,929
International Development Law Organization (IDLO), INGO Euro 399,298
Evaluative reports
* Copies of evaluative (narrative and financial) reports either annual (from start of the programme) or mid-term
 
Please find attached a copy of The European Union’s Results-Oriented Monitoring (ROM) report of the MyJustice programme. 
 
We have redacted two names from this document and are withholding them under section 40 (Personal data) sub-section (2) as we do not think it would be fair to disclose the names of these individuals. 
 
No other evaluative reports have been completed to date.
 
 
I hope the information provided has been useful. 
 
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: 
 
Information Governance Advisor (Disclosures)
Information Governance and Risk Management 
British Council
Bridgewater House
58 Whitworth Street
Manchester
M1 6BB 
 
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner for a decision at: 
 
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
 
Phone: 0303 123 1113 
 
 
Yours sincerely