Scottish Fiscal Commission faces ‘significant challenge’ in accessing crucial DWP data

Susan Rice

The Scottish Fiscal Commission has said its economic forecasting work is being frustrated by a lack of access to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) data.

Dame Susan Rice, chair of the Commission, said its requests for information are being handled as Freedom of Information requests, Public Finance reports.

This could create “a significant challenge” as it could lead to crucial delays in accessing important economic data, she said.

MSPs were told that its latest request was answered “just in time for us to be able to examine it”, but that it “places us in an uncertain situation with regards to future data requests”.

Dame Susan suggested that DWP under-staffing was to blame, and proposed a memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the DWP to resolve the issue moving forward.

She said: “Our sense is they have more and more work and to do and probably not more people to do it, and they would prefer to take all requests from Scotland from the Scottish Government.

“We need to have people understand who we are…that we are independent from the Scottish Government and therefore have the right to ask for the data we are asking for, and that needs to be respected.

“We are a public body in our own right.”