On time responses to Freedom of Information requests by 19 central government authorities have improved over the last two years, new figures have revealed. 

The information comes from the Ministry of Justice who recently published their Freedom of Information data for central government for the third quarter of the year (July-September), for the purposes of this post it has been compared with the same period in 2010.

The overall picture shows requests not receiving a response “on time”, within the original deadline or a permitted extension, this is the same percentage as in 2010, although a drop of one percent on last year.

  • In total there were 11,563 FOI requests in the quarter, this is a two percent rise from 2010.
  • Out of the 44 authorities monitored by the Ministry of Justice 21 received more requests than in 2010 and 20 who received fewer.
  • The Office for National statistic had a 123% increase in the number of requests recieved across the two years, although they only received 67 requests in the quarter. However there was a seven percent decrease in the number of requests responded to on time.
  • Two public authorities dealt with more than 1,000 requests in the three month period. The highest was the Health and Safety Executive who had 1,617 – this equates to around 17 requests a day in the 92 day period.
  • Receiving the second most requests was the Department for Work and Pensions (1,156). For them this was a 49% increase in the amount of requests in the period in 2010. This high increase in the number of requests dealt with has had an impact on their ability to respond on time, with there being a 13% decrease in the number on time.
  • Performing very poorly was the Welsh Office, who received 37 requests in the period, a five percent decrease compared to 2010 but only managed to respond to 59% of these requests on time, a 35% drop in on time responses compared to two years ago.
  • Nineteen authorities improved the amount of requests they responded to on time, and 17 failed to improve.
  • Improving the most at responding to requests on time was the Ministry of Defence, who dealt with 817 requests in the three months and responded to 86% of them on time an improvement of 31% from 2010 – they also received 14% more requests than two years ago.

The data compared is between 2010 and 2012, (2011 remains in the spreadsheet for further information). 

The full spreadsheet can be accessed here. 

I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare time ever since.