Information requested by Researching Reform in June, on government ministers with financial interests in fostering and adoption agencies, has been refused by the Ministry of Justice and The Department For Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Ministry of Justice’s replies to two of our Freedom Of Information requests relating to the above query, cited costs as the underlying factor for not being able to provide the information, but did offer the suggestion of narrowing down the request in order to access these details.

The DWP’s response is more controversial. The department’s approach was to classify the data requested as personal information, which under current legislation is protected and so not required to be shared, unless it falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Consent from the individual/s concerned
  2. Compliance with a court order;
  3. The prevention of the duplication of payments from public
    funds, or;
  4. Where there is a compelling public interest in making the disclosure

Given that adoption and fostering agencies have been routinely privatised over the last few years, raising serious concerns about their efficiency and financial structures, and that ministers have in the past been accused of profiting from these agencies at the expense of children inside the care system, this information clearly crosses the public interest threshold.

Researching Reform also wrote to other Departments, so we will have to see what they come back with. Please don’t hold your breath. And yes, we will be narrowing down our requests and trying again. There’s something here.