Grant Shapps MP the shadow housing minister has made a request to Communities and Local Government for a a copy of the contracts between them and the three approved tenancy deposit schemes.

As might be predicted, the request was refused, citing “commercially confidential information”.

Interestingly, some time ago we too made a request under the Freedom of Information Act. This was the same reason given to us for refusing to release them during our request and at the time we didn’t have time to appeal to the information commissioner although I do think an appeal would be worthy.

When we made the request, they said releasing the contracts could provide competitors with an edge if new companies were to place a bid to become an approved tenancy deposit scheme. We responded to this by offering to place a bid (although this was not a genuine offer), to which we were told they weren’t accepting any more bids! If they are not accepting bids, surely then, there is no commercial sensitivity?

The exchange between Grant Shapps MP and Ian Austin MP is below.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 March on tenancy deposit schemes, if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract between his Department and each tenancy deposit scheme provider.

Ian Austin: The contracts between Communities and Local Government and the tenancy deposit protection scheme providers contain commercially confidential information. I am therefore unable to place copies in the Library.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 March on tenancy deposit schemes, what mechanisms are in place to ensure the financial viability of tenancy deposit schemes.

Ian Austin: The contracts under which the tenancy deposit schemes operate are designed to ensure that they continue to be financially viable. Those contracts are commercially sensitive. But I can confirm that the mechanisms which they contain in order to safeguard financial viability include restrictions on investments and agreed method statements based on the schemes’ initial business planning assumptions. All these measures are kept under close review.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 March on tenancy deposit schemes, whether he has made an assessment of the adequacy of the self-financing aspect of the business models of the private companies under contract to his Department.

Ian Austin: We closely monitor the three tenancy deposit scheme providers with contracts with Communities and Local Government and hold regular contract governance meetings with them. We are satisfied that their business models are adequate to facilitate the ongoing financing of their schemes.

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