EXCLUSIVE: DfE refuses request to reveal costs of transferring 100+ academies despite earlier Court ruling
The Department for Education has refused to reveal the cost of transferring the 100+ academies which changed hands up to 31 August 2015.
This is despite a Court ruling that the DfE had to release the costs of transferring 23 academies which moved from one academy trust to another between September 2013 and end of October 2014. When the figures were eventually released they showed £3m had been spent on these academy transfers.
The number of academies swapping chains has increased rapidly since the beginning of November 2013. This is likely to have further increased the cost of academies changing hands.
Why did the DfE refuse my request?
The Department says it has the information. But complying with my request would cost £600 which ‘would exceed the cost threshold applicable to central Government.’ The £600 ‘represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3½ working days locating, retrieving and extracting the information’, the DfE claims. It’s ‘not obliged’ to comply with my request ‘under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act’, the DfE says, and won’t, therefore, ‘be processing it further’.
I’ve been given the option of narrowing my request. I’ve told the DfE to reduce the number to 77+ academies because I’ve already received the costs of transferring 23 of them.
I’ve asked for an internal review on two grounds:
- The Court has already ruled there is a public interest in revealing costs of transferring academies from one academy trust to another (a process known as ‘rebrokerage’).
- My FoI request asked how the DfE would make future rebrokerage costs easily accessible. This question wasn’t answered.
The Court ruling noted the Education Select Committee’s remarks: “The DfE needs to be far more open about the implementation of the academies programme: it has much to gain from transparency and clarity over its processes and “The DfE should be more open and transparent about the accountability and monitoring’. This openness, the Court said, including funding.
It appears, however, the DfE doesn’t think it has anything to gain from such transparency. This implies it would rather the public didn’t know how much money is spent on rebrokerage.
But taxpayers have a right to know academy transfer costs. The DfE should stop prevaricating and publish the figures.