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Treasury accused of ‘secrecy’ over Lifetime Isa costs

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The Treasury has been accused of secrecy over its cost estimates for the Lifetime Isa after it rejected a Freedom of Information request from former pensions minister Steve Webb.

The Financial Times reports Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, submitted the FoI to determine how the Government arrived at its £1.9bn cost estimate for the Lifetime Isa.

Webb asked how many Lifetime Isas the Treasury expects to be sold, and how much money is expected to go into each account.

He was first told the data was not held, then through a further FoI discovered the Treasury did hold the requested information.

The Treasury then rejected the request, saying: “Public authorities, such as the Treasury, must, within reason, have the space to be able to determine their own publication timetables.

“We judge that the balance of interest lies in not disclosing the information held at this time.”

Webb told the FT it was worrying that the Treasury’s expectations on the Lifetime Isa were being “shrouded in secrecy”.

He says: “The Lifetime Isa is an important new product and the Treasury has allocated hundreds of millions of pounds of public money to its introduction.

“In the spirit of open government, the Treasury should be willing to share its expectations as to the level of demand for these new accounts.

“It is hard to see why this information should be treated as if it was a state secret.”

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  1. Let’s hope there aren’t also secret clauses invalidating the core purposes of the product this time.

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