RSS
 

Archive for February, 2016

How Much Funding Has Fork2Fork Had?

24 Feb

Questions that I am regularly asked are: What’s happening to farmers’ markets? Why isn’t more being done to support them? Why can’t Welsh Country back them?
Well the last question is easy to answer. Fork2Fork have been paid an enormous amount of money to focus on farmer’s markets, farm shops and box schemes. The total amount they’ve been paid is apparently a huge secret that wag will not reveal. We aren’t funded by wag to support markets or Welsh food and drink producers for that matter, but we back to the hilt those that are working with Welsh Country. As for the other questions, I decided I’d try again through Freedom Of Information Act. The answer I’ve been sent through today is shown in full – apart from if I’m not happy with my reply, I can complain – as follows:
ATISN 10133 – Funding for Folk2Folk
Silly typos there from the Welsh Government, what the civil servant should have typed was Fork2Fork!
Thank you for your request which I received on 1 February 2016. You asked for:
1. Has the Fork2Fork project been awarded further funding since the two payments totalling £898,497?
As part of additional funding allocations in June 2014, under the Supply Chain Efficiency funding stream, additional funding was allocated to the Fork2Fork project.
2. If further funding has been awarded to Fork2Fork, how they were allowed to obtain further funding on this project?
Additional funding was allocated to the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme (SCES) and all existing and new project sponsors were invited to submit proposals for new projects or new activities that would add value to their current projects.
A further allocation of £7.2 million was committed to projects under SCES.
3. Who authorised any further payments?
Payments were authorised by a Welsh Government official on behalf of Welsh Ministers. I am withholding the name of the official under Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act as they were not senior staff and were working in an administrative capacity. I describe my reasoning in Annex A
4. Why further funding was awarded?
Further funding was used to expand on previous capacity building amongst the Fork 2Folk community of interest by enhanced engagement and provision of business and marketing support.
5. If further funding was awarded to Fork2Fork that was over £25k, and if these were put out to tender by WAG or not?
Fork2Fork is a project that was approved under the Supply Chain Efficiencies Schemes which is part of the Rural Development Plan 2007-2013. The project sponsor is FBA Ltd. This is not a Welsh Government procured contract therefore any additional grant support is not subject to Welsh Government procurement procedures
6. Please list all payments made to Fork2Fork, dates awarded and for what purpose additional monies were given.
For question 6, you requested this information in January 2013 and it was withheld under S.43 of the FOIA – Commercial interests. As the information requested and situation has not changed, we ask that you see our response to request 6822. We are treating this as a repeat request under Section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act. Responses to FOIs are in the disclosure log on:
http://gov.wales/about/foi/responses/?lang=encan
7. I require all recorded information that relates to Fork2Fork.
Your question is not sufficiently clear for me to locate the information you want. If you wish to reformulate this request it will be treated as a new request for information. Further guidance on making requests can be found on:
http://gov.wales/about/foi/makerequest/?lang=encan
8. All payments made to them and why they were made.
For question 8, you requested this information in January 2013 and it was withheld under S.43 of the FOIA – Commercial interests. As the information requested and situation has not changed, we ask that you see our response to request 6822. We are treating this as a repeat request under Section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act. Responses to FOIs are in the disclosure log on:
http://gov.wales/about/foi/responses/?lang=en
Annex A
Data withheld under Section 40 of the FOIA.
Section 40 sets out an exemption from the right to know if the information requested is personal information protected by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Personal data is defined in Section 1(1) of the DPA as:
“personal data” means data which relates to a living individual who can be identified from those data; or from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller.
We have concluded that, in this instance, the name of the officials within the information requested amounts to personal data. Under Section 40(2) of the FOI Act, personal data is exempt from release if disclosure would breach one of the data protection principles. We consider the principle being most relevant in this instance as being the first.
The first data protection principle states:
Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless—
(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and (b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 is also met.
We consider that name of the official clearly falls within the description of personal data as defined by the DPA and that disclosure would breach the first data protection principle. The first data protection principle has two components:
1 Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and
2. Personal data shall not be processed unless at least one of the conditions in DPA schedule 2 is met
Guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (Personal information (section 40 and regulation 13) v 1.3) states (at p11):
The starting point is to consider whether it would be fair to the data subject to disclose their personal data. The key considerations in assessing this are set out in the section on Fairness below.
If disclosure would not be fair, then the information is exempt from disclosure.
This approach was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in the case of Deborah Clark v the Information Commissioner and East Hertfordshire District Council where it was held: “The first data protection principle entails a consideration of whether it would be fair to disclose the personal data in all the circumstances. The Commissioner determined that it would not be fair to disclose the requested information and thus the first data protection principle would be breached. There was no need in the present case therefore to consider whether any other Schedule 2 condition or conditions could be met because even if such conditions could be established, it would still not be possible to disclose the personal data without breaching the DPA” (paragraph 63). The Information Commissioner has issued guidance on whether release of names of officials in disclosed emails would be unfair, and thus in breach of the first principle of the DPA. The guidance states:
In assessing whether employees can have a reasonable expectation that their names will not be disclosed, key factors will include their level of seniority and responsibility and whether they have a public facing role where they represent the authority to the outside world. Where the officials in question are not senior staff, do not have a public facing role and where they are acting entirely in an administrative capacity, I have concluded that they have a reasonable expectation that their names will not be disclosed. It is my view, therefore, that disclosure of their names would breach the first data protection principle, and thus are exempt from release under section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Our view here in the office is this is as clear as Scotch mist, or maybe that should be Welsh Government mist. FBA were awarded this tender on a second round tender when the first tenders were apparently deemed not worthy. I have tried and tried to find out what is happening. I was told that this Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme project was originally approved for two years but under the terms of the scheme projects can ask for extensions up to a final date of 30 June 2015. This project has been extended twice and the last extension was approved by the Scheme Manager on 10 October 2012.
The initial grant awarded was £799,736 and at the last extension the completion date was 31 March 2014 with a total grant award of £898,497. This comprised of (approximately) £55,000 for the second national conference that was delivered in 2012 and a further £43,761 for additional activity for the website, some further information circulation and an extension to the independent evaluation as the project will now run over a longer period.

Well despite my efforts, that’s as far as I have got before being blocked once again. I am convinced that this project has/is still being funded and I bet the cost is now heading well towards £1.4m, but proving any further figures, as you can see is impossible to do!
What Welsh food and drink producers will be furious about is FBA being paid £43,761 for website activity for 12 MONTHS, a website that of course was paid for by this project. Which idiot thinks any website is worthy of a payment of £3,700 a month for updating a website? Who is so out-of-touch with reality to agree this? I’ve been told I’m not allowed to know who made this decision but I can tell you, because I had a meeting with the civil servant heading SCES and some top civil servants from Cardiff, but the Head Honcho didn’t even check the Fork2Fork website stats, ‘because he didn’t need to – he was allowed to authorise this payment!’

To then be told we are not allowed to know how much FBA have been awarded because of ‘Commercial Interests’ is a joke. It has to be. Or is it only me that’s confused as to what is commercial interests when sack loads of cash are being thrown at a ‘project’ from Europe.

I am not satisfied to be told that: This is not a Welsh Government procured contract therefore any additional grant support is not subject to Welsh Government procurement procedures.
I view this as opting out, but typically Welsh Government. Basically wag are saying that this is nothing to do with them as it’s running under Supply Chain Efficiencies Schemes, part of the Rural Development Plan 2007-2013, but it was wag civil servants that awarded the tender – eventually – and then agreed further secret payments to this project, but it’s nothing to do with wag……………………….

I can only dream of dealing with a Government that is open and transparent in their actions. Why wag feel we have no right to know what FBA have been paid, and for what, for is beyond my comprehension. Whether this money comes from wag itself or from Europe, it’s still our money and I will always maintain the Welsh public have a right to know – it’s just a pity wag prefer to treat the Welsh public and journalists like mushrooms…………………………….