New research from mySociety: Exploring Freedom of Information in UK local government.
Over the last year, the mySociety research team has used FOI requests and surveys of FOI officers to put together a picture of the scale and administration of Freedom of Information in UK local authorities.
That research can be found in our new report: Freedom of Information in local government. It can be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf.
Headline findings include:
We estimated the number of FOI requests being sent in 2017 to local government at around 469,000. This is twice a previous estimate for 2010 and and ten times the number of FOI requests sent to central government.
This means that WhatDoTheyKnow accounted for around 6% — with most councils sitting somewhere between 2% and 13%.
We found that there was a wide range of case management systems in use, and that councils which receive more FOI requests were more likely to use case management software, but that this didn't appear to have an effect on speed of reply.
Most councils do not have a disclosure log, and there is both a desire to publish more proactively, and skepticism that this approach can reduce requests. Our research found no positive or negative effect of having a disclosure log on the number of requests.
We’ve written two summaries of key findings:
These results feed into our Local Digital-funded project on management of FOI and SAR requests - the first results of which will be released next month.
The report can be viewed online, or downloaded as a pdf