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.