Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) in Scotland will come under the scope of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) from 11 November this year; the date on which the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Designation of Persons as Scottish Public Authorities) Order 2019 (the Order) will come into effect.
The Order will provide another important tool to give effect to the theme of this year’s Scottish Housing Day: Housing as a Human Right, by giving tenants the right to access information about housing services provided by RSLs. The types of information that tenants will be able to access as a result of the order will, however, vary on a case by case basis. You can read our legal update on the Order to understand more about the types of information that may be available.
As the implementation date approaches RSLs should think about the practical steps they can take to ensure that they are able to respond to those changes. We set out our top tips below:
- Publish an internal policy setting out the procedures to be followed by staff in response to requests for information – including how requests under FOISA, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and requests for access to personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation should be differentiated and dealt with.
- Provide staff training on the policy and procedures to be followed in response to requests for information. Consider how that training can be developed and refreshed going forward, and how your organisation can learn from and share best practice.
- Put in place systems to monitor your organisation’s response to requests for information and ensure that it complies with statutory timescales for responses; think about using internal deadlines and alerts to safeguard that process.
And finally, pick up the phone to a member of our team if you’d like more information on how you can prepare for the introduction of the Order. We can assist with the development of internal policies and procedures, as well as provide training on responding to requests for information. We will also be happy to provide advice in response to any specific request for information received by your organisation.