There are some areas where we believe the Freedom of Information Act needs to be strengthened or is not working as well as it should.
The FOI Act does not properly apply to contractors providing public services. We are trying to change this. There are also other bodies we think should be brought under the Act’s scope such as housing associations and other bodies with public functions.
Requesters frequently experience serious delays before public authorities answer requests or carry out internal reviews. We are pressing for tighter time limits in the FOI Act and for them to be enforced more effectively by the Information Commissioner.
We think the Act’s ‘absolute’ exemptions (i.e. those not subject to the public interest test) are unnecessary and all exemptions should be subject to a public interest test, unless an equivalent provision already applies.
Destruction of requested records
We want to extend the 6 month time limit within which the Information Commissioner can prosecute authorities which deliberately destroy requested records. The slow pace of answering requests and investigating complaints makes this difficult for the Commissioner to achieve.
These are just some of the improvements to improve freedom of information we are actively working to bring about.