I would like to know what discounts from which companies Devon County Council employees enjoy
We hold information about discounts available to employees of Devon County Council. We do not hold information about which discounts employees enjoy.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 places on obligation on public bodies such as Devon County Council to disclose information in relation to requests unless there is a valid exemption.In this case we consider there are two exemptions which apply to information about employee discounts.
Section 41 Information provided in confidence
This is an absolute exemption and therefore a public interest test is not required. Devon County Council has an agreement with the companies that provide the discounts which states that we will not disclose them unless the supplier agrees or we are legally obliged to do so. It is not possible to canvas all suppliers and ask for their agreement as it would only take one negative or nil response to nullify the whole approach. We consider the information has the necessary quality of confidence as it is more than trivial, not otherwise accessible and there is a genuine interest in the information remaining confidential. We have an obligation of confidence and there is a wider public interest in preserving the principle of confidentiality.
The legal obligation may extend to Freedom of Information legislation, however, there is a second exemption below :
Section 43 Commercial interests
This is a qualified exemption so a public interest test is required.
While it is in the public interest for a public body to be open and accountable about the expenditure of public funds the provision of employee discounts does not involve any expenditure of public fund, therefore there is no obligation to disclose the information in the interests of being open and accountable.
We consider that full disclosure may prejudice the commercial interests of the suppliers as disclosure may enable competitors to provide better discounts to attract more customers. We also consider that full disclosure would be to the detriment of employees as suppliers may decide to retract discounts or not join the scheme in future. Disclosure may also undermine future negotiations and have a negative impact on council – supplier relationships.
These factors combine to support our decision to apply the exemptions.