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Gervase Hood

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Freedom of Information Act
Fees System
Gervase Hood
Information Rights Division
Fees - original
policy
•Repeated commitments that public purse would bear
majority of costs of FOI. Individuals to pay no more than
10% for FOI requests.
•Fees system should be simple to understand and operate
•No-one should have to pay for information that is
currently provided for free.
Fees - overview of
current position
• Original policy based on charging 10% of cost of each
request - too complex.
•New system means that the majority of requests will be
answered free.
• Ministers announced broad outline of fees system on 18
October.
•Draft Fees Order to be laid in November, to come into
effect from 1 January.
Fees - key
points
•S12 of the FOI Act allows Ministers to set an “appropriate
limit” beyond which authorities can choose not to answer
requests:
• £600 for central government
• £450 for other public authorities
•Alternatively, authorities have discretion to answer and
waive the fee, or answer and charge full cost.
Hourly cost
• Charges to be based on standard hourly cost for all
public authorities - £25 per hour
• £600 = 24 hours staff time: approx 3½ days work
• £450 = 18 hours staff time: approx 2½ days work
Calculating
charges
•When calculating fees, authorities:
• can charge for cost of locating, sorting, editing, and
redacting information
• cannot charge for time taken to consider whether
exemptions apply
•Authorities can charge full cost of disbursements (e.g.
printing, photocopying, postage etc).
Fees notice
• Fees notices need to be issued in advance of responding
to request, if authority proposes to charge.
•Authority not obliged to respond to request unless fee is
paid within three months.
•Time limits for answering questions do not apply while
waiting for fee to be paid.
Fees - next
steps
•Ministers announced broad outline of fees policy to help
authorities plan for implementation.
•Fees order to be laid in November.
•Guidance to public authorities, including on calculating
£450 / £600 limits, to be issued at same time.
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