Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act - fees
Most Freedom of Information requests do not attract a fee; however there are times when the amount of information either being considered for disclosure or to be disclosed means the council has to consider a charge.
In addition, the council can make a £10 charge for Data Protection requests. The council currently waives this charge to Northampton citizens for one request in any 12 month period; however it may apply a charge for disbursements.
The council uses the 'Appropriate Limit and Fees Regulations 2004' (PDF, 50.6KB) as the basis for considering charges and looks at the four reasons below before issuing a fees notice:
- Prescribed costs
Employee time to deal with your request except for locating and copying your information.
Printing (actual costs), photocopying (12p per A4 side), formatting (actual time taken to reformat the information) and actual postage costs including special packaging.
- Appropriate limit
Can the request be reduced so that a meaningful response can be made within the allowed maximum? This is done under section 16 of the FOI Act (advise and assist) by contacting the applicant and reviewing with them the scope of the request.
- Allowed maximum
Once the allowed maximum is reached (i.e. the request exceeds 18 hours or £450) the council can do one of the following
- Refuse to respond as the request could place undue financial and resource burden on the council
- Charge for the time over the allowed maximum
- Charge the full cost of the request
If the council considers a charge is applicable a fees notice will be issued. Fees notices are live for 3 months. If the fee is not paid within the 3 month period the request is void and will not be responded to.
The most common fees notices are issued when there are large amounts of paper copies of information being requested or when information such as CCTV images need downloading onto tape or disc and personal information (faces, etc.) need obscuring.
You have the right to challenge any application of the fees regulations within the fees notice period.
Information Access Challenges, Northampton Borough Council, The Guildhall, St Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE
E-mail: [email protected]