Freedom of Information (FOI) requests
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests:
Everyone has the right to request information held by public sector organisations under the Freedom of Information Act.
This is a useful process for DDPOs who want to obtain information about how funding and strategic decisions about the commissioning and provision of services for Deaf and disabled people are being made in their areas. This can be a useful campaigning tool, providing you with some of the following:
- Statistical data used for decision making
- Details of Equality Impact Assessments
- Information about reductions to Individual Budgets
- Numbers and types of complaints about adult social care
Example: A local authority has decided to reduce or change the way they deliver a particular service. Your organisation is not happy with the depth of the information you have received about the decision, and suspect that the Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) did not fully address all the relevant issues. You can request the EqIA, under the FOI Act. Once you receive this information it can be used to help you with your plans for further action.
About FOI Requests
On the DirectGov website, you can find out:
- how freedom of information works;
- a list of public sector organisations you can make request to under FOI;
- how to make an information request; and
- what to do if your request is refused.
Who to write to
The DirectGov website has a search mechanism to find out details of who to make your FOI request to in your borough. To search via Postcode or Local Authority, follow the link: www.local.direct.gov.uk/LDGRedirect/index.
Exceptions to FOI requests
The first exemption for responding to an FOI request is: “Information that is accessible by other means”; therefore, it is important to check that the information you want isn’t already available or scheduled for publication before making your request.
For a list of all of the exemptions, see the Wikipedia entry for the Freedom Of Information Act 2000. Follow the link: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act_2000#Exemptions
Guidance on writing an FOI
Martin Turner provides good general guidance, including a template for writing you FOI request. Follow the link: www.martinturner.org.uk/practical-politics/how-to
Another model for writing an FOI request – taken from the Campaign for Freedom of Information Report: ‘A Short Guide to the Freedom of Information Act and Other New Access Rights’, 2005 - can be downloaded below.
Other useful links
For further information, you can look at:
- Information Commissioners Office – the UK’s independent authority to uphold public interest information rights. www.ico.gov.uk
- The resources section of Empowering the Voluntary Sector pages on the NAVCA web site has an article for download on the using the Act www.navca.org.uk/services/learningopps/evs/resources