Charities and contractors may come under Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act could soon apply to any organisation that receives public funding, including charities and contractors that work in the public sector, under new proposals currently being discussed.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Such a move - which The Times reports is being seriously considered - could mean the public can demand to see commercially sensitive information held by the organisation in question.

An independent review of the FoI was ordered by the Government last year, initially with the aim of restricting access to information being discussed behind closed doors. However the changes now proposed bring more transparency to the public sector, not less. It is believed that is partly due to the collapse of the charity Kids Company, which is accused of mismanaging its finances after receiving at least £46m of public money.

As well as charities, contractors could be subject to the act when they are spending public funds. Grounds maintenance contractors have previously been asked for information about their pesticide use through the FoI act, but these requests have been directed through councils which are already subject to the act. It is not yet clear whether contractors would be required to divulge commercially sensitive information under the proposed changes.

The Independent Commission on Freedom of Information is expected to report back in early February after two oral evidence sessions are held on 20 and 25 January.

See the next edition of Horticulture Week for more.

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