Policy makers have decided that contractors who provide services to public authorities should remain outside the Freedom of Information Act. This news will save contractors from the prospect of extra costs associated with requests under the 2005 legislation.

The decision was made following a consultation on extending the freedom of information rules. Officials stated that forcing private sector companies to comply with the act would also increase costs for the state. They also realised that the burden of Freedom of Information compliance might put contractors off working on public service contracts altogether.

The employers’ organisation, CBI commented, “Companies would find it extremely difficult to factor in FoI requests at a fixed cost when contracting with government and could set a price per request instead. This would mean contracts may engender significant additional costs where companies receive a substantial number of FoI requests.”

Information relating to the work carried out by contractors will remain the responsibility of the government.

The Ministry of Justice said, “The government has concluded that no general expansion of FoI in relation to contractors is appropriate at the present time.”

They agreed that the issue of contractors and Freedom of Information requests will be kept under review with specific attention paid to contractors working in prisons, detention centres and care homes. However, contractors are advised to comply with the ethos of the Act by volunteering any information that is requested of them.

The Freedom of Information rules have been extended to include the Association of Police Officers, the Financial Ombudsman Service and UCAS.

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