There is estimated to be around 100,000 UK bodies that are covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

The bodies that are covered are classed as public authorities. The Act does not describe what a public authority is, but they are generally bodies that are mostly funded with tax-payer money.

Schedule 1 of the Act details authorities that are covered by the Act. The bodies that are covered by the Act can be altered by government ministers, but a general list of the main authorities that are covered is below.

Public authorities

The following types of bodies are considered to be public authorities under the Act:

  • Government departments
  • Government agencies (such as the DVLA, or UK Border Force)
  • Councils (including parish, district, borough, county)
  • Health Authorities (all NHS bodies)
  • Fire Authorities
  • Police
  • Police and Crime Commissioner’s
  • Museums and galleries
  • Schools and academies
  • Publicly owned companies

Not covered by the Act 

There are unfortunately an array of publicly funded authorities that are not covered by the Act.

The main examples of these are:

  • The security services (GCHQ, MI5, MI6, etc)
  • The Queen and her Heir to the throne
  • Individual MPs or councillors
  • Housing Associations

Partly covered by the Act 

Some bodies that are covered by the Act are not covered in all respects. This means that they are only covered by the Act in terms of certain information.

The BBC, for example, is not covered by the FOI Act for matters that relate to journalism, literature and art.

This area of non-coverage allows for the protection of journalistic sources and information that is used to create the BBC’s output.

Others include:

  • The Bank of England
  • Channel Four
  • Traffic Commissioners
  • Houses of Parliament
Matt is a digital journalist, freelancer and has written a book on the Freedom of Information Act for journalists. He runs this site in his spare time aiming to help raise awareness of the Freedom of Information Act and its uses. He can be found tweeting @mattburgess1.

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