Discretionary Housing Payments. Wirral Council foreseeably and avoidably broke the law for 18 months

06 12 2017 DHP redacted

Links to previous Discretionary Housing Payments posts:

  1. FOI Request to Wirral Council ~ Discretionary Housing Payments
  2. UPDATE: Leaked Wirral Council email: Discretionary Housing Payments Unlawful for 18 Months
  3. “Most Improved” Wirral Council. Breaking the law on Discretionary Housing Payments – and now an FOI failure – have vulnerable families been evicted?
  4. Wirral Council Fails to Withhold Crucial Discretionary Housing Payments Report
  5. Information Commissioner Publishes Discretionary Housing Payments Decision Notice

We’ve reached the next crucial stage in this long-running FOI request that was originally made in February of this year.

Tellingly, last month, the Information Commissioner disagreed with Wirral Council and forced it to reveal information which it had previously withheld under a Section 31 exemption.

We’d disagreed with the council’s position right from the outset, and had asked for an internal review.  When this failed to prise them open, we appealed to the Information Commissioner.  Here is a link to the ICO’s subsequent Decision Notice which painstakingly listed the reasons why Section 31 was not fundamentally relevant in this case.


This starts with a determination giving the council 30 days to release the information to the public or potentially have themselves referred to the High Court.

The Council responded ‘at the last minute’ – yesterday – with three separate and fairly extensive pieces of information, although much of it has been obliterated behind large, black rectangles.

Here is a link to the council’s response on the WhatDoTheyKnow website:


Due to the amount of information contained, we will not be analysing this just yet.  That will come in a future post.  But we know readers will be keen to see the information for themselves, set out in a readable format.


Here are the three responses in .jpg format, with links to the .pdf documents below:

Response 1

05 12 2017 - DHP - redactedLADLFeb 17 - Discretionary Housing Payments - response

Download here:



Response 2

05 12 2017 - DHP - redacted Oct 16 - Discretionary Housing Payments - response2

Download here:



Response 3

05 12 2017 - DHP - redacted May 16 - Discretionary Housing Payments - response3

Download here:



Next, we’ll be comparing Wirral’s responses above with the advice laid out in the ICO’s #FS50684466 decision notice in order to clarify whether the data controller had the scope to obliterate so much of the information… including what looks like the investigation reports’ cover pages, titles and original dates of issue.

Once this is done we will update readers of this blog and make a decision on whether to appeal the case to the First Tier Information Tribunal after checking the lay of the land with the Information Commissioner.


About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
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