Matt Hancock: We won't charge for Freedom of Information requests

Cabinet Office-commissioned review of FOI rejects charging for requests, as minister Matt Hancock says government will "not make any legal changes" to the transparency act

The government will not charge for Freedom of Information requests and no legal changes will be made to the act, it has been announced.

Following a review into the legislation, Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock said it was “working well” and said more data about senior pay would be routinely published.

Set up in 2000, the FoI Act allows members of the public to obtain information from public bodies.

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The Conservatives launched a review into the act last year, sparking widespread fears its powers would be watered down. A Civil Service World survey carried out last year found some support among officials for introducing charges, with just over 50% in favour of charging for requests and 36% percent opposed.

But ahead of the publication of the review’s findings later today, Hancock said there would be no fundamental changes to the law.

“After 10 years, we took the decision to review the Freedom of Information Act and we have found it is working well,” he said.

“We will not make any legal changes to FoI. We will spread transparency throughout public services, making sure all public bodies routinely publish details of senior pay and perks.

“After all, taxpayers should know if their money is funding a company car or a big pay-off.”

Hancock’s comments have been given a cautious welcome by the Campaign for Freedom of Information, although the organisation's director Maurice Frinkel has pointed out that not all changes to the act would require legislation.

The commission’s full findings will be published later today.

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