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Freedom of Information Charging Policy

The right under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) to request information held by public authorities, known as "the right to know", came into force on 1st January 2005

Fee Regulations

The method of calculating charges within this policy is in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (appropriate limits and fees) Regulations 2004.

Estimating the costs of processing requests; (section 4(3) of the FOI regulations)

When estimating the cost of complying with a written request for Information, Basildon Council will take into account the staff time involved in the following activities:

• Determining whether the information is held.

• Locating the information or a document that may contain the information.

• Retrieving and extracting the information, or a document that may contain the Information.

The cost of the above activities will be calculated by applying an hourly rate of £25 per person, (section 4(4) of the FOI regulations.)

When calculating the costs to process requests, the Council cannot take account of the time taken to consider whether information is exempt under the Act.

Where the cost to process a request is below £450

Where the cost of complying with a written request for information is estimated to be below £450, there will be no charge unless the disbursement costs (printing copying and postage) exceed £5. Where disbursement costs exceed £5, the applicant will be issued with a fees notice and must pay the costs within a period of three months before the Council can comply with the request. Disbursements costs applied by the Council are shown below.

Where the cost to process a request exceeds £450

In accordance with the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (appropriate Limits and Fees) Regulations 2004, the Council is not obliged to respond to a written request for information, where it estimates that the cost of complying with the request would be in excess of £450 (which equates to 18 hours of work at £25 per hour).

• Staff costs (£25 per hour) involved in determining whether the Council holds the information.

• Staff costs (£25 per hour) of locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

• Disbursement and staff costs (£25 per hour) incurred in informing the applicant that the information is held.

• Disbursement and staff costs (£25 per hour) incurred in communicating the information to the applicant.

• In all cases the costs must be 'reasonable'.

Campaign requests

If the Council receives two or more related requests within a period of 60 consecutive working days, from a person or different persons who appear to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign, the costs of complying with the individual requests will be aggregated.

Disbursements

Photocopies:

A4 Black & White 20p per sheet

A3 Black & White 30p per sheet

A4 Colour £1.00 per sheet

A3 Colour £1.50 per sheet

Prints from a PC:

Black & White 20p per page (additional cost for producing A3)

Colour £1.00 per page (additional cost for producing A3)

Photo quality paper prints £1.50 per page

Postage costs will also apply.

The Council will not charge for:

Providing information in an alternative format if the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) covers the person requesting it, unless the original document was a priced publication. In this case, the charge for the alternative format will not exceed the cost of original publication.

Notifying charges

  • Where charges apply, the Council will notify the estimated charge to the applicant before doing any charged work.
  • Where there is a significant difference between the estimated and the actual charge, the Council will notify the applicant.
  • Where charges apply, the Council will require payment before compiling and supplying information.
  • If a charge is not paid within the specified time limit of 3 months, the information will not be supplied.

Data Protection Act 1998

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Council will charge an individual the sum of £10 for requesting personal information held by the Council about the individual. These requests for information are referred to as subject access requests.

The Council will not process the subject access request until the £10 fee has been received.

Review of charging policy

This policy will be reviewed bi-annually.

Complaints

If the applicant does not agree with the proposed fee, they can appeal through the Council's complaints procedure.

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