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Government “wasting money” to keep information about Childcare Implementation Taskforce secret, Alliance says

Alliance criticises government for refusing to publish details about official childcare taskforce
The Alliance has criticised the government for refusing to publish information about the work of its official childcare taskforce despite being instructed to do so by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The Alliance filed a Freedom of Information request in December 2015 asking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to share information about how many times the Childcare Implementation Taskforce – a cross-departmental government working group focused on the roll-out of the 30 hours and tax-free childcare – have met, when those meetings were held and who was in attendance. It was not asked to share any information on meeting discussions or agendas.
The DWP twice rejected the request on the grounds that the information would jeopardise ministerial communications and hamper the development of government policy. However, ICO upheld a complaint made against the DWP by the Alliance and gave the department 35 days to provide the withheld information in November 2016.
Rather than release the information as instructed, the DWP is appealing against the ICO’s ruling at a first-tier tribunal scheduled for May 2017.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “The creation of this taskforce was announced to great fanfare, so it is not unreasonable for us to ask how often these meetings have taken place and who has attended. The fact that the government is going to such extreme lengths to avoid providing such basic information is frankly bizarre and raises some serious questions about what exactly has been going on behind the scenes.
“The is second time that the ICO has ruled in the Alliance’s favour in recent months. In November, the government was told to publish data produced by Deloitte and used to inform a DfE review into the cost of childcare after the DfE has twice rejected requests for the information.”