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Freedom of Information fees

Wiltshire council may charge to respond to some requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). There are fees regulations set by government around what we can charge, a policy has been agreed that incorporates these rules as well as other guidelines.

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On 1 January 2005, the public acquired new rights to have access to information held by public bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. On the same date, the Freedom of Information (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 came into force. These regulations set out the fees that public authorities are permitted to charge for complying with requests for information.

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Wiltshire council is committed to providing high quality services to the public it serves, and to provide value for money to council tax payers. It is also committed to high standards of transparency so that it can be fully accountable for the services it provides and the decisions it makes. The Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act both support the council’s values by giving the public access to information that would not previously have been available.

The council’s cabinet has determined that Wiltshire council will charge a fee for complying with requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and s9(a) of the Data Protection Act 1998. In making this decision, it has balanced the need to be transparent and accountable to the public against the need to be responsible in its use of resources. This policy sets out the charging structure approved by the cabinet in January 2005.

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  • The hourly rate for officer or contractor time is £25, under 18 hours of work is free of charge.
  • The cost of photocopying and printing is 10p per page. Double sided pages are charged at 20p per page
  • The cost of postage will be the estimated actual cost of postage
  • All other charges (e.g. CD-ROMS) will be charged at actual cost
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The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act require local authorities, in most cases, to confirm or deny whether they hold the information requested. In doing so, they may determine whether the cost of meeting with the “duty to confirm or deny” that they hold the information would exceed £450.

If the estimated cost of complying with the duty to confirm or deny will exceed £450, Wiltshire county council will refuse the application on the grounds of excessive cost.

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If the cost of confirming or denying that the information is less than £450, (based on a notional charge for officer time at £25 per hour plus the estimated costs of disbursements) the council must proceed to estimate the cost of complying with the request.

If the cost would be less than £450 (including a charge for officer time at £25 per hour plus the estimated costs of disbursements), the council must determine whether or not to charge for complying with the request.

The costs that can be taken into account in estimating fees for requests under the £450 limit as calculated above include:

  • Putting the information in the applicant’s preferred format
  • Reproducing any document containing the information (e.g. photocopying, printing)
  • Postage and other forms of communicating the information
  • If the estimated costs are less than £10, the council will not charge for communicating the information

If the estimated costs exceed £10, the council will issue a fees notice based on the charges set out above.

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The council will not charge for subject access requests for structured personal information made under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Provided that the estimated cost of meeting the duty to confirm or deny that the council holds unstructured personal data pursuant to a request made under s9(a) of the Data Protection Act 1998, the council will not charge for subject access requests for unstructured personal data made under the Data Protection Act 1998.

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If it appears that two or more similar requests received by the authority have come from the same person, or from different persons who appear to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign, the council will aggregate those requests for the purposes of estimating costs.

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If it appears that an individual or organisation if making repeated and or vexatious requests, the council is not obliged to comply with request(s). Any decision not to comply with a request will be made by the council’s Monitoring Officer or by the Chief Executive.

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Last updated: 30 November 2016 | Last reviewed: 30 November 2016