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The day in FOIA: Conservatives social housing failure, Government’s £100,000 bill for facebook ads and the Department for Education’s not-very-free information

Tories failing to build social homes for poorest people, Labour says

Conservative councils will build on average 20 social homes for the poorest people in society by the end of the parliament – and in the housing minister’s own back yard, just one house a year will be built until 2015, according to a survey.

Freedom of information requests by the Labour party to 324 local councils showed that Tory local authorities were building fewer than half as many social homes as Liberal Democrat councils and fewer than a fifth of those in Labour authorities, which were planning an average of 100 properties for the poorest over the next three years. Of the 324 councils, 246 responded to the Labour request.

Concern exists that the number of social homes, be they in council hands or built by housing associations, has collapsed under the coalition. Last yearthere was a 91% fall, from 35,690 to 3,305, in the number of social homes, where rents are roughly a third of market rates, being built.

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Tandeep Ramesh | The Guardian | 28 August 2012

Facebook ads: £100,000 bill for government – good value?

Back in July, when we were investigating the usefulness of Facebook advertising, I got a message telling me that the government’s Great campaign was a good example of best practice. It had won nearly half a million “likes” for 13 Facebook pages promoting various aspects of British life, business and culture.

But I wanted to know what that had cost, and how much the government was spending more widely with Facebook. So we submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Cabinet Office asking those two questions. We have now received the answers – or at least a partial response.

It turns out that as of 19 July, the government had spent £98,418.25 with Facebook on advertising the Great campaign. A spokesman said the campaign had achieved 472 million ad impressions leading to 782,000 ad clicks – and across the 13 Facebook pages, 583,000 “likes” had been generated.

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Rory Cellan-Jones | BBC News | 28 August 2012

Education in brief: not-very-free information from the government

A freedom of information (FOI) request asking the Department for Education how many school playing fields have been sold off under the coalition has gained a lot of media attention, helping to pile pressure on Michael Gove over the post-Olympics legacy.

But the request is remarkable for another reason: it seems to be the only FOI response that has been published by the DfE on its website for more than seven months.

The department’s FOI pages promise to “list the requests … and the department’s responses”. But the playing fields document, published on 14 May and “updated” on 8 August, is the only one listed as having been published since January. Over the same period, the independent FOI website, WhatDoTheyKnow, lists many public requests to the DfE. Curious.

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Warwick Mansell | The Guardian | August 27th 2012




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