Care home briefing 100 – Fee negotiations: OLM and the Freedom of Information Act

Many providers are facing challenging times in agreeing local authority fees. Some local authorities are seeking to impose reductions unilaterally, in many cases in breach of contract.

Other authorities are instructing financial consultants, such as OLM, to advise them. In such circumstances, care home operators will be asked to provide detailed information about their business. If this happens it is important to obtain professional advice on this.

However, a recent decision of the Information Commissioner may assist in dealing with cases involving OLM as it has recently been reported[1] that the Information Commissioner has held that Brent Council failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act in refusing to provide details on the number of placements that OLM were dealing with, the data compiled by OLM, documentation relating to the project with which OLM were involved and the criteria adopted by the local authority to decide which providers should be asked to provide information to OLM.

The local authority argued that the information was exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act on the basis that disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of Brent and OLM, and that it would amount to a breach of confidence.

However, the Information Commissioner held that the information that was being requested was not a trade secret and that any contractual confidentiality clause did not mean that Brent could avoid their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. The information therefore had to be disclosed.

This decision may well provide assistance to providers in dealing with such situations. The full decision is available on the website of the Information Commissioner: www.ico.gov.uk

Andrew Parsons
andrew.parsons@rlb-law.com
© RadcliffesLeBrasseur


Footnote
[1] ECCA July Newsletter

New CQC Application Forms: 1 July 2011 CQC are hoping to improve the registration process with new procedures which take effect on 1 July. There will be new application forms, a reduced need to submit references and a willingness to accept CRB Certificates up to 6 months old. It is hoped that once an application has been validated, this will be turned around within 8 weeks. 


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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