The FOIA Commission published its report into the FOIA on 1 March 2016, including 21 recommendations for improving the Freedom of Information Act.
The government has yet to respond in full but has given its views on the key recommendations. The recommendations and government response are summarised below, with the recommendations most likely to have a significant impact on our clients in bold.
Perhaps more interesting are the formal recommendations that have not been made.
There is no recommendation to lower the cost of compliance limit or to widen the use of fees.
The Commission also concluded that extending FOIA to private companies delivering outsourced public services would be "burdensome and unnecessary". However, there is a suggestion (short of a formal recommendation) that performance and delivery information about outsourced public services held by private companies delivering more than £5m of public services public per year should be caught by FOIA.
There has been some discussion, post the Kids Company debacle that charities should be subject to FOIA. The Commission has concluded that charities should be treated in the same way as other contractors.
A copy of the report can be found here.
The Freedom of Information (Public Interest and Transparency) Bill 2015-16 is currently making its way through Parliament. The Bill touches on some of the issues detailed in the report, such as time limits for considering the public interest test (recommendation 1) and vetoes (recommendations 13-16). Subject to the government's detailed response to the report, it may well be that we see some amendments to the Bill, and in turn, some legislative changes sooner than anticipated.
Click here to view table.