Surrey Heath Borough Council wishes to make as much information as possible available free of charge. However, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI), the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) and the Data Protection Act 1998 do allow for some charges. All fees, except for disbursement charges, have been set by The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.
Estimating the costs of processing requests (section 4(3)) of the FOI Act
The Council makes information available through its Publication Scheme.
When estimating the cost of complying with a written request for Information, Surrey Heath Borough Council will take into account the staff time involved in the following activities:
- Determining whether the information is held
- Locating the information or a document that may contain the information
- Retrieving and extracting the information, or a document that may contain the Information
The cost of the above activities will be calculated by applying an hourly rate of £25 per person up to a maximum of 18 hours (section 4(4) of the FOI Act.)
When calculating the costs to process requests, the Council cannot take account of the time taken to consider whether information is exempt under the Act.
Where the cost to process a request is below £450
Under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 (Section 3(3)) where the cost of a written request for information is below £450 there will be no charge other than for disbursement costs (printing copying and postage). If disbursement costs are to be charged, the applicant will be issued with a fees notice and must pay the costs within a period of three months before the Council can comply with the request. Once the Fees Notice has been issued the request will be on hold until the Fees Notice has been paid. If after three months the Fees Notice has not been paid, the request will be closed. If the Fees Notice is paid the time for supplying the information will start from the date the money is received. The fees are shown below.
Where the cost to process a request exceeds £450
Where it is estimated that the cost of complying will exceed £450 (see above), the Council is not obliged to respond to a written request for information. We will endeavour to re-clarify your request so that it can be answered under the £450 threshold. If above £450, the request may carry a charge at £25 per hour and this will be at the Council's discretion. The Council has a right to refuse the request.
EIR information requests
Environmental information with be available for examination on council premises free of charge. If the applicant requests copies of the information, photocopying and disbursement costs will apply.
The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 provides for the costs of answering more than one request to be added together or aggregated for the purposes of estimating whether the 'appropriate limit' would be exceeded in relation to any one of the requests. Requests can only be aggregated in the following circumstances:
- two or more requests for information must have been made to this Council
- they must be either from the same person, or from different persons who appear to the authority to be acting together or in pursuance of a campaign (section 12(4)(b) of FOIA)
- the requests must relate to the same or similar information; and
- they must have been received within a space of 60 consecutive working days. This provision is designed to prevent individuals or organisations undermining the 'appropriate limit' by splitting a request into smaller parts. Before applying these provisions, the Council will carefully consider the reasons for believing that requests have been framed to frustrate the cost limit.
Repetitious or vexatious requests
In considering whether to refuse to answer multiple questions altogether on the grounds that they are repetitious or vexatious requests, the Council will take account of the guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office.
Data Protection Act 1998
Charges under the Data Protection Act 1998.
The charge for a subject access request is £10. The charge if anyone holds Housing Benefit or Income Support is £5 (proof of entitlement) is required.
Photocopying and printing
A4 Black and White 10p per sheet
A3 Black and White 15p per sheet
A1 Black and White 50p per sheet
A0 Black and White 50p per sheet