Magazine article Public Finance

Changes to Fol Costings 'Threaten Openness'

Magazine article Public Finance

Changes to Fol Costings 'Threaten Openness'

Article excerpt

MPs and campaigners have warned that proposed changes to the way government processes freedom of information requests could seriously weaken the effectiveness of the legislation.

Under current arrangements, an Fol request can be refused if the cost of dealing with it exceeds £600 in the case of central government departments, or £450 for other public authorities.

But the Department for Constitutional Affairs this week said it was considering changing how these costs are calculated by allowing the time staff spend on requests to be factored into cost calculations. The change would mean many more requests would breach the cost barrier.

An early day motion tabled on October 16 by MPs Tony Wright and Alan Beith, respective chairs of the public administration and constitutional affairs select committees, stated that 'such changes could undermine the Act's benefits of increased openness, accountability and trust in the work of public authorities'. …

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