Fees for Providing Information
Fees for Providing Information
The Freedom of Information (Fees for Required Disclosure) Regulations 2004 state that public authorities may charge applicants for certain projected costs associated with locating, retrieving, collating and providing information.
If the work required to respond to any part of the request will take more than ten hours, the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office must be contacted.
The EIRs do not require charges to be made, but Scottish public authorities have discretion to make a reasonable charge for environmental information. Please see EIRs charging policy for further details.
There is a separate charging procedure for information that is made accessible via the University's Publication Scheme. Information on this charge is contained in the Introduction to the Publication Scheme. Any fees for information made available by the Publication Scheme must be clearly stated in the relevant section of the Publication Scheme.
It is essential that all processing actions, calculations, and decisions that result in the request or the payment of a fee by the applicant are recorded for an audit trail.
How to calculate the estimated cost
All estimates of the cost of work must be precise, justifiable, and documented. If the case were to go to appeal, the Scottish Information Commissioner may require evidence as to how costs were attributed. The Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office can give advice on calculating estimated costs.
Fees notices and charges are created per question, not for the entire request. If it will take more than ten hours to answer one question, then a fees notice is applicable. If the response to a question is multi-departmental or institution-wide, we can determine a fees notice based off the combined work of all involved areas.
- If a fees notice is required, provide a detailed breakdown of the tasks and time involved in answering the information request.
- What we CAN charge for:
- Locating, retrieving, and providing information
- Redaction of information
- Costs of posting and packaging, based on cost of Royal Mail Second Class post
- Photocopying, costs of CD/other media if requested by applicant
- What we CANNOT charge for:
- Time required to run reports automatically, i.e. activities with no human intervention
- Determining whether information should or should not be provided, i.e. review or checking of information
- Deciding whether a document should be redacted
- The maximum cost of staff time is £15 per hour per member of staff, including pension and National Insurance costs but not overheads.
- Do NOT round up the cost of staff time to the nearest hour but calculate the appropriate fraction of an hour.
- Black and white photocopies/printouts of web pages or other documents are charged at 10p per A4 sheet.
- Please note that the Data Protection & FOI Office is responsible for redacting information and posting responses -- therefore only our office is able to charge for these costs.
The table below provides an example of an adequate fees notice:
How to calculate the actual fee
- If the estimated cost is less than £100, then there is no fee to the applicant.
- If the estimated cost is more than £100 but less that £600, then the actual fee to the applicant is 10% of the difference between the estimated cost and £100.
- e.g., if the estimated cost is £300, then the fee to the applicant is £20.
£300 minus the first £100
x 10% of the £200
= £20 : the final charge to the applicant
- If the estimated cost is more than £600, then the University does not have to supply the information.
- VAT is not applicable for the fees.
What to do if a fee is applicable
- The University is required to be helpful to the applicant, so check whether it is possible to offer the applicant relevant, cheaper information, or info that would incur no fee. If it is possible, contact the applicant accordingly.
- If the fee is minimal, consider whether it is practical and sensible to seek payment of the charge.
- If a fee is to be charged, full details of the calculations must be sent to the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office. We will:
- check the validity of the calculations,
- issue a formal fees notice to the applicant, and
- record the date and value of the fees notice to ensure a full audit trail.
- The fees notice must be issued within the 20 day response time limit.
- The issue of the fees notice will "stop the clock" for the response to the information request, until payment is received.
- No information will be provided to the applicant until the fee is paid.
What to do upon payment of the fee
- The preferred means of payment is a cheque, made payable to the University of Glasgow. We will accept cash or postal order.
- All payments in response to a fees notice must be sent to the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office.
- Upon receipt of payment, the response time to the information request recommences - the "clock resumes".
- The Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office will
- acknowledge receipt of payment,
- advise the applicant that the request will now be actioned, and
- advise the University department handling the request of receipt of payment and the residual time left to respond.
- The DP and FOI Office will pay the fee into an account specified by the Finance Office.
- If no payment of the fee is made within three months of the date of issue of the fees notice, the DP and FOI Office will consider the request closed.
- If the applicant is dissatisfied with the fee, he/she can request a review.
What to do if the estimated cost is greater than £600
- Immediately contact the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office with full details of the calculations and state that the fee limit has been exceeded.
- The DP and FOI Office will check the validity of the calculations, and liaise with the applicant to determine whether some information can be provided at a lesser cost.
- If the information request cannot be modified, the DP and FOI Office will advise the applicant that the fees limit has been exceeded, and that the University does not have to supply the information.
For further information on charging fees, please see the guidance on Fees and Excessive Cost of Compliance produced by the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner.