Charges and Fees
1. Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
2. Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)
3. Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
The Council aims to provide as much information as possible free of charge on the corporate website or by providing requested information. However, the FOIA and EIR allow public authorities to recover costs when responding to a request for information, for example costs associated with photocopying, printing and postage.
Where there will be a cost to the Council of determining if the information is held, then locating, retrieving and extracting the requested information, exceeding the appropriate time and cost limits set by the FOIA:
These limits are currently set at £450 or 18 hours of a Council Officer’s time at £25 per person per hour (Section 12 of the FOIA). The Council does not have to make a precise calculation of the costs of complying with a request; instead only an estimate is required. However, it must be a reasonable estimate. If the Council starts to carry out searches without an initial estimate, it can stop searching as soon as it realises that it would exceed the appropriate limit to fully comply with the request. In addition, the Council is not obliged to search up to the appropriate limit.
The Council will provide advice and assistance, issuing a refusal notice indicating it is not able to provide the requested information within the appropriate limit. We should advise the requester to refine their request to within the limit, and if possible, provide advice on how to do this.
Where a requester wants to go ahead paying the fee, a Fees Notice is issued, the statutory period of 20 working days for dealing with the request will be suspended until payment of the fee has been received by the Council. The requester will be given a period of 3 months within which to make payment of the Fee. If the Fee is not received within this period, the Council will no longer proceed with the request.
In addition, if the actual cost of answering a request is higher than the fee specified in the fees notice, the Council cannot issue a second notice and must bear the additional cost. However, if costs are lower than those specified in the notice, the Council will refund the excess amount to the requester.
The EIR does not require charges to be made but allows discretion to make a reasonable charge for environmental information. In general, a reasonable charge is one that covers the actual costs incurred by the Council in producing the information. Costs may include:-
• Actual costs of the staff time it takes to locate information;
• Staff time to put the information in an appropriate format for disclosure; and
• Disbursements (e.g. photocopying, printing and postage costs) in transferring the information to the requester.
When making a charge, whether for information that is proactively disseminated or provided on request, the charge will not exceed the cost of producing the information.
A schedule of charges will be made available (including, e.g. a price list for publications, or the charge per unit of work which will be incurred to meet a request) when Council proposes to make a charge.
However, if the Council is providing access to a public register, lists of environmental information, published data sets, information published in our disclosure log, or examining information at the council’s offices, then access to the information shall be free of charge.
Under the GDPR, the Council will not charge a fee for most subject access requests. However, Article 12(5) advises where the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive, the Council may charge a reasonable fee for the administrative costs of complying with the request. This can cover e.g. repeated requests for the same information. In those circumstances, the Council will either refuse to respond and explain why, or charge for the administrative costs of providing the information, e.g. photocopying or postage costs. The Council cannot charge for staff time. The Council will advise the requester which basis (either manifestly unfounded or excessive) it is relying on.
Where advance payment is required, the case will remain active for 60 working days until payment is received. If no payment is received during this time the request closes but the requester may make a new application at any time.
If a request exceeds the reasonable/appropriate cost limit, the table below identifies the description of costs which can be applied under the relevant regime:
|Staff time – determining if we hold the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information||Yes, if the info cannot be viewed by the requester at a Council site.||Yes, if the info cannot be viewed by the requester at a Council site.||No|
|Printing / copying||Yes||Yes||No cost for
(media device, folder/ring binder)
|Redaction||No||No||Yes, if CCTV footage is requested and it requires redacting through pixelation of third parties. This is carried out by an external company.|
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Corporate and Strategic Services on 0300 303 1777.