Details of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request about the employment of brokers hired by the department, including their pay, job description and tax.
- Date requested: 29 April 2013
- Publish date: 3 June 2013
How many academy brokers are hired by the department.
The pay of these brokers including commission for persuading schools to convert, if any.
Their job description.
How many are paid through agencies and other organisations which allow them to minimise their tax bill.
Confirmation of whether or not these brokers are bound by the Civil Service Code was also requested.
We are defining your request for information on academy brokers, covering school brokers and sponsor development advisors.
We are releasing the following information:
The department presently contracts with 37 brokers.
Brokers are not contracted on performance-related pay schemes.
Brokers are contracted by the department to provide education advice services.
Schedule one of the contracts sets out the services to be supplied. Copies of both types of contracts are attached.
The department requires special expertise for the broker role that it cannot find within the civil service. Their expertise needs to be deployed flexibly in different parts of the country. These and other needs are best secured through a contracted service. This type of engagement also achieves value for money for the taxpayer; it would be far more expensive to employ brokers on permanent terms. Further, the department has reduced day rates significantly since 2010 and will continue to do so.
In accordance with HM Treasury guidance, the department requires all contractors engaged after 23 August 2012, or where existing contracts are renewed, who have been working with the department for longer than 6 months, to provide assurances they are paying the correct taxes. A clause in their contract states that the department can terminate contracts with immediate effect by notice in writing if at any time the contractor fails to fulfil their obligations relating to payment of taxes.
Brokers have been used throughout the academies programme on similar contractual arrangements since 2004 and the requirement for them to give assurances that they are paying the correct taxes is a new safeguard introduced in July 2012, reflecting the government’s commitment to tackling this issue.
Brokers are contractors and are not bound by the Civil Service Code which applies to employees of the Crown only.
We can confirm the department holds the information for point 2 of the request, but this is being withheld because an exemption under section 43(2) of the act applies. Section 43 provides for information to be exempt from disclosure where disclosure under this act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person. This exemption requires a public interest test to be carried out, to determine whether the public interest in withholding the information, outweighs the public interest in its release.
The awarding of contracts to external bodies involves the expenditure of public funds. There is a strong public interest in ensuring transparency in this process and in there being accountability for publicly spent money within the department. This is to ensure that public money is being used effectively and that the department is getting value for money. It is also important to ensure that procurement processes are conducted in an open and honest way.
However, the general public interest in releasing the information requested must be balanced against the public interest in protecting commercially sensitive information.
The release of day rates would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the contractors providing the service. The disclosure of this information could also prejudice the department’s commercial interests by adversely affecting the bargaining position during future contractual negotiations, which could result in the less effective use of public money. It is therefore considered that it is not in the public interest to disclose information relating to the detailed breakdown of tenders, as it is not already publicly known and would be likely to be used by competitors in a particular market to gain a competitive advantage.
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