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Freedom of Information

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Environmental Information Regulations
  • Main features of the Freedom of Information Act
  • Requesting information
  • Publication Scheme
  • Yorkshire Forward’s publication scheme  
  • Classes of information
  • How information published under this scheme will be made available
  • Charges which may be made for information published under this scheme
  • Information not covered by Yorkshire Forward’s Publication Scheme
  • How long will it take to answer my request?
  • What information is exempt from disclosure?
  • Complaints procedure
  • Copyright

Introduction

In November 2000, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) received Royal Assent and it became fully operational on 1 January 2005. The FOIA applies to over 100,000 public authorities, including England’s nine regional development agencies (of which Yorkshire Forward is one). It provides greater access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, and imposes obligations on them to disclose information (subject to a range of exemptions).

The act seeks to balance 3 rights:
  • The right to information
  • The right to confidentiality
  • The right to effective public administration.

It was passed with the aim of fostering a culture of openness, transparency and accountability in government. Yorkshire Forward is committed to complying with the obligations imposed by the FOIA.

Environmental Information Regulations

All references to Freedom of Information include Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), unless otherwise stated. You can email (foi@Yorkshire-Forward.com) to ask for information under the EIR. More information on it can be obtained from the Information Commissioner.
Note that the disclosure of personal information will continue to be governed by the Data Protection Act 1998.

Main features of the FOIA

The act provides for the general right of access to information held by public authorities in the course of carrying out their public functions, subject to exemptions. In the majority of cases where information is exempt from disclosure, there is a duty on public authorities to disclose where (in the view of the public authority), the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in maintaining the exemption in question.

The Information Commissioner is an independent office-holder appointed by the Crown to administer and enforce the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 governing the use of, and access to, information. The Commissioner is independent of government (reporting directly to parliament) and also promotes good practice and enforces compliance with the acts.

Requesting information

In accordance with the act, all FOI requests must be made in writing. When requesting information, please provide full details of the information you believe Yorkshire Forward holds which you wish to be made available to you. Please provide as much detail as possible to assist us in identifying the information you require.

We require a contact or email address in order to respond to your request. A contact telephone number is also helpful, in case we need to clarify your request. All contact information will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

Each public authority is required under the FOIA to produce a publication scheme setting out what information it would publish as a matter of course. Our publication scheme contains examples of the types of information that we hold, and this may assist you in describing to us what information you seek.

Publication Scheme

Section 19 of the FOIA requires all public authorities to adopt and maintain a publication scheme (see below for more information on ours). If the information you need is included in our Publication Scheme, then it’s available on Yorkshire Forward’s website. Links to our Publication Scheme can be found at the bottom of this page, or you can search our website.

Yorkshire Forward’s Publication Scheme

Yorkshire Forward has adopted the Information Commissioner’s Approved Publication Scheme, which commits us to proactively provide information to the public as part of our normal business activities. The information covered is included in the classes of information detailed below, where this information is held by Yorkshire Forward.

Classes of information
  • Who we are and what we do
  • What we spend, and how we spend it
  • What our priorities are, and how we’re doing
  • How we make decisions
  • Our policies and procedures
  • Lists and registers
  • The services we offer
These classes of information will not generally include:
  • Information whose disclosure is prevented by law, or exempt under the FOIA, or otherwise properly considered to be protected from disclosure.
  • Information in draft form.
  • Information no longer readily available, since it is contained in files which have been placed in archive storage, or are difficult to access for similar reasons.

How information published under this scheme will be made available

Yorkshire Forward will indicate clearly to the public what information is covered by this scheme, and how it can be obtained. Where it is within our capability, we will provide information on our website. Where it is impracticable to do so, or when an individual does not wish to access the information via the website, we will indicate how it can be obtained by other means, and we will provide it by those means.
In exceptional circumstances, some information may be available only by viewing in person. Where this is specified, contact details will be provided. An appointment to view the information will be arranged within a reasonable timescale.

Information will be provided in the language in which it is held, or in such other language that is legally required. Where Yorkshire Forward is legally required to translate any information, it will do so.  

Obligations under disability and discrimination legislation, and any other legislation to provide information in other forms and formats, will be adhered to when providing information in accordance with this scheme.

Guide to information

Yorkshire Forward routinely publishes information about our activities, our spending, our priorities, our decisions, our policies and procedures, information in lists and registers, and about our services. This section helps you to find that information. View our guide to information page

Charges which may be made for information published under this scheme

The purpose of this scheme is to make the maximum amount of information readily available at minimum inconvenience and cost to the public. Material which is published and accessed via our website will be provided free of charge.

Charges may be made for information, subject to a charging regime specified by parliament, and may be made for actual disbursements incurred, such as:
  • Photocopying.
  • postage and packaging.
  • the costs directly incurred as a result of viewing information.

Charges may also be made for information provided under this scheme where they are legally authorised, where they are in all circumstances (including the general principles of the right of access to information held by public authorities) justified; and where they are in accordance with a published schedule or schedules of fees readily available to the public. If a charge is to be made, confirmation of the payment due will be given before the information is provided. Payment may be requested prior to provision of the information.

Information not covered by Yorkshire Forward’s Publication Scheme

Please indicate how you would like to receive the information you have requested. We will try our best to accommodate your preference. If it isn’t possible, we will explain why, and provide you with an alternative option.

If the information you have provided is insufficient for us to determine whether we hold the information you’ve requested, we will contact you to request additional information. Once sufficient information has been received for us to confirm we hold the information you require, we will determine whether or not we can disclose the information to you, and whether or not a fee will be payable by you.

If we refuse to provide you with the information you have requested, we will explain the grounds on which we have refused and why those grounds apply.

If we have:
  • adequate information to deal with your request
  • received any required fee
  • not refused to disclose the information to you in accordance with all appropriate legislation we will communicate the information requested by you within 20 working days.

It is Yorkshire Forward’s intention that items will be available free of charge, but in accordance with the FOIA we do reserve the right to make charges where appropriate, and when the amount of work and cost incurred warrants it.

Any requests for information under the FOIA should be forwarded in writing to:

The Corporate Information & Date Manager
Yorkshire Forward
Victoria House
Victoria Place
Leeds LS11 5AE.
Alternatively you can email (foi@Yorkshire-Forward.com) us. (This email address may also be used for Environmental Information Regulation requests.)

How long will it take to answer my request?

This will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the request. Under the FOIA, we must normally deal with your request within 20 working days of receipt. The 20-day period commences on the first working day after your request is received. Weekends and bank holidays do not count as working days. If we need further information or clarification from you, we stop counting the working days until we’ve received that information from you.

Under the FOIA, in cases involving the public interest test, we may seek an extension to the 20-day limit, and would write to notify you accordingly.

What information is exempt from disclosure?

Information can be withheld if it falls within one of the FOIA 24 exemptions. There are 2 types of exemption:
  • absolute exemptions (which require no public interest test to be carried out)
  • qualified exemptions (which require a public interest test to be carried out to decide whether the public interest is better served by the disclosure or the withholding of the information).

For more details about the exemptions, visit the website of the Information Commissioner. There are similar exemptions from disclosure under the Environmental Information Regulations, which in that case are known as ‘exceptions’. For more information about the exceptions, visit the Defra website.

The complaints procedure

If you are not satisfied with our response, you may ask for your request to be reviewed internally by Yorkshire Forward. A request for a review should be addressed to The Executive Director, Finance. A member of our senior management will conduct the review, and you will be notified of the outcome within 20 working days. If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner for a decision on the handling of your request. Full details of our complaints procedure can be found here.

Requests for a review by the Information Commissioner should be made in writing directly to:

FOI Compliance Team (Complaints)
The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
SK9 5AF.

Copyright

If you want to re-use or reproduce the publications or information provided by Yorkshire Forward following a request under the FOIA (for example, commercially or for circulation to third parties) you may need to apply for a copyright licence.