Laura Sharman 30 April 2019

Councils handling nearly half a million FOI requests every year

Councils receive around 467,000 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests every year, nearly double the number compared to estimates back in 2010, a new report has revealed.

The analysis by mySociety found councils received ten times the number of FOI requests than central government.

The report – Freedom of Information in Local Government – found compliance rates with the statutory 20 days deadline for reply are high in local government with only a few isolated exceptions.

It also shows a third of councils had at least one FOI request considered vexious, with 9% having at least five in the past year.

Dr Ben Worthy of Birkbeck College said: ‘This report gives us a first comprehensive picture of what’s happening with FOI at the local level. It shows that request numbers have indeed continued to grow and that local authority staff face a series of obstacles in dealing with requests.

‘Above all, it underlines the importance of FOI as a tool of local democracy.’

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