4% fall in FOI requests in 2016, Cabinet Office reveals

Written by Richard Johnstone on 20 April 2017 in News
News

DWP, MoD, MoJ and Home Office continue to get most Freedom of Information requests, figures show

The number of FOI requests received by government departments and bodies fell by 4% in 2016, according to figures published today, but the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence were among the departments to see an increase.

In total there were 45,415 FOI requests received across all monitored bodies in 2016, a fall of around 1,971 from the previous 12 months. Of these, 30,664 were received by departments, which was also down compared to the 2015 calendar year.


Departments buck trend of declining FOI requests
New Freedom of Information watchdog hints at tougher rules for slow departments
Freedom of Information review: ministers reject charging for requests – but commission recommends tightening of rules around policy formulation


The figures from the Cabinet Office revealed the departments with the biggest number of requests were the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. Together they received over half (53%) of FOI requests made to departments of state, with requests down at the DWP and up at the other three.

The new departments created following prime minister Theresa May’s machinery of government changes in July – the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for International Trade – accounted for 3% of the FOI requests in the year.

The Health and Safety Executive and the National Archives account for over half (51%) of requests to other monitored bodies.

The figures also revealed that 91% of FOI requests were responded to in time, with nearly half of bodies responding to 95% or more of requests in time. The worst department for responding within the 20-day deadline for responses was the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and its poor performance was continued by its successor department BEIS.

In total, 73% of the 45,415 requests received in 2016 were resolvable, and just under half (46%) were granted in full.

About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy editor and tweets as @RichRJohnstone

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