All information relating to Bill Cash's 2012-13 accommodation expenses

Request

In your initial email dated 19 September 2013, you requested information relating to Bill Cash's accommodation expenses, incurred in 2012/13.  You later clarified, in an emailed dated 27 September 2013 that you were seeking information on how and why Bill Cash exceeded the budget allocated for accommodation expenses, alongside a copy of the lease.


Response

IPSA holds some of the information that you request.

In responding to your request, we searched our systems for any information relating to why Bill Cash MP exceeded his accommodation budget, including any information held within correspondence, minutes of meetings and other formats.

Information relating to the specific reasons why Mr Cash’s exceeded his accommodation budget was not located within any correspondence or minutes of meetings that we hold, as you requested.  However, we were able to locate some information within our systems relating to the rationale for the exceeded budget.

According to our records, the issue of Mr Cash exceeding his budget was related to a move in his accommodation and a change in rental payments.    As Mr Cash’s new rental payments exceeded the accommodation budget, he requested that IPSA set up regular direct payments to his landlord for a proportion of his rent, while he would pay the remaining amount directly to the landlord.  Due to a lengthy delay on the part of IPSA in setting up the requested direct payments, Mr Cash claimed the full rental amount via reimbursement claims, rather than the reduced proportion for part of the year.  This resulted in Mr Cash exceeding his accommodation budget.  

Please find attached in Annex A an extracted copy of Mr Cash’s most recent lease agreement that we hold, which takes the form of a renewal letter.  We have redacted some information under Section 31(1)(a) (Law enforcement) of the FOI Act. This section of the Act states that information is exempt if its disclosure under the FOI Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention (or detection) or crime.

After considering the nature of the withheld information it is our opinion that were a disclosure to be made into the public domain it is probable that this information could be traced back to sensitive personal or commercial information which could be used for criminal activity.

Although we recognise the public interest in transparency surrounding the publishing of invoice information there is also a strong public interest in ensuring that as an organisation we are able to protect our service users from the threat of being subjected to criminal activity, which is achieved through our capacity to withhold certain information from disclosure. It is for this reason that we have decided that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

We have also withheld information contained in the letter relating to third parties, as well as rental amounts not paid by IPSA, under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act.  Section 40(2) provides that personal data about third parties is exempt information if one of the conditions set out in section 40(3) is satisfied. Under the FOI Act disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle (Principle 1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), where it would be unfair to those persons or is confidential. For further information, you may wish to visit the UK Legislation website.

Ref:
F1314-126
Disclosure:
October 24, 2013
Categories:
MPs' ACCOMMODATION
Exemptions Applied:
Section 31