Information Access Fees Policy

1. Introduction

1.1 This policy sets out the charges that Plymouth City Council will make in relation to requests for access to information in accordance with relevant legislation.

1.2 This Policy will apply to all Council directorates and business units

2. Estimating Costs

2.1 In calculating the cost of staff time the Council will use the rate of £25 per person per hour.

    2.1.1 This will be known as the standard fee rate

2.2 Where the Council is required to estimate the cost of staff time and/or materials and distribution, this will be on the basis of the relevant service areas estimate for the staff time required and the expected materials and distribution needed to fulfil the request.

2.3 Where the Council considers that requests have been made which can be aggregated, then the Council will combine the costs of the requests and act as though they were one request.

3. Data Protection Act (DPA) charges

3.1 The Council will not charge for a Subject Access Request provision unless the request is deemed excessive or manifestly unfounded

3.2 The following criteria will be used for determining if a request is excessive or manifestly unfounded.

    3.2.1 It will take longer than 18 hours of staff time and is not a social care request

    3.2.2 It is a repeat of a request received and provided within the previous 6 months.

3.3 Any excessive or manifestly unfounded request will be provided for a fee calculated using the standard fee rate for the estimated time to completion of the request.

4. Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) charges

4.1 Where the estimated cost is below the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450, the Council will provide the information free of charge

    4.1.1 The costs that can be taken into account include the cost of staff time involved in determining whether we hold the information, locating the information or documents containing the information, retrieving the information and extracting the information from documents

    4.1.2 Staff time involved in deciding whether an exemption is applicable is not included.

4.2 Where the estimated cost is above the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450, the Council fee charged will be the full cost of satisfying the request including the total cost of the full staff time involved in meeting the request.

    4.2.1 The appropriate limit cost of £450 will not be deducted from the final charge for the full disclosure.

5. Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) charges

5.1 The Council will charge the standard fee rate for the estimated time to completion of the request, after an initial ¼ hour of staff time has been provided. 

6. The Re-use of Public Sector Information (RoPSI) Regulations 2015

6.1 The Council will charge the standard fee rate for the estimated time to completion of the request.

6.2 There will not be a charge for provision of information that has already been published

7. Other charges for information

7.1 Council and Committee minutes and report charges

7.1.2 Minutes from all recent public Committee meetings and, supporting documents and papers for current meetings to which the public have access, are available from the Council web site, free of charge.

7.1.3 If multiple copies are requested or the material is required in a format that the Council would not normally use, the full cost of staff time and materials will be charged.

7.2 Statutory Registers

7.2.1 Access to inspect the register is free of charge during normal office opening hours.

7.2.2 If a copy is requested of an entry on the register, or the material is requested in a format that would not normally be used by the Council, then a charge will be made to cover the full cost of staff time at a standard rate and materials. 

7.3 Other Access to Information Requirements

7.3.1 If specific charges exist under other statutory access regimes, those charges will apply.

7.3.2 Where no statutory charges exist, the Council will charge the full cost of staff time at the standard rate after an initial ¼ hour of staff time has been provided.

7.3.3 All costs for materials will be included.

8. Copyright

8.1 The supply of any information, whether a fee is paid for the material or not, does not provide the person who receives the information with an automatic right to re-use the material in a way that would infringe copyright.  Brief extracts of the material may only be reproduced for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting.

8.2 All information supplied by the Council must have the express permission of the Council or the copyright holder, in order to be further used, or transmitted in any format or medium.

8.3 Where information is proactively disseminated, including through commercial print publications or other products for which users would be expected to pay a purchase price, then the reuse of the information will be subject to licensing terms.

9. Translated and Accessible versions 

9.1 We intend to deal fairly and equally with our diverse community, and provide translation into other languages or accessible versions of documents, in line with the Council’s Equal Opportunities policy statement. If the Council can provide the requested versions of information at a reasonable cost then there will be no extra charge. Otherwise the full cost of meeting the request in the format that the requestor has specified, will be charged.

10. Additional charges

10.1 Where the applicant prefers the information to be supplied in an alternative media or format to the original publication or storage method, the Council will charge for all costs incurred in meeting this preference.

10.2 Multiple copies of publications, documents or other material can be provided where copyright, licensing arrangements or patents would not be infringed. The charge for supplying multiple copies is the multiple of the cost for a single copy plus the cost of any additional staff time.

10.3 Value Added Tax is chargeable when:

    10.3.1 The Council supplies information that is also available from another organisation that is not a public authority

    10.3.2 A charge is made for a document supplied in accordance with the Publication Scheme.

11. Fees Notice for the Provision of Information

11.1 A fees notice will be issued to the person requesting the information if the Council decides to apply a charge in accordance with this policy.

11.2 The estimated charges that the Council will make for the information provision will be detailed in the notice. 

11.3 The actual fees charged may differ from those set out in the Fees notice. 

11.4 The Council will notify the requestor of any variance in the fees that exceed a 10% tolerance.

11.5 When a Fees Notice is issued no further action will be taken until the fee is received.

11.6 The Fees Notice will provide details of how to make the payment.

11.7 Should the fee not be paid within 30 days, the request will be closed.

12. Dispute resolution

12.1 All time will be recorded for work that involves a fee. This recording will be made available to the requestor if they query the actual fee charged.

12.2 Any complaint about proposed fees will be referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

13. Review

13.1 This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis