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Mature Discussion needed on FOIs

Responding to the Information Commissioner’s suggestion that FOI should cover charities delivering public services, ACEVO Interim Chief Executive Asheem Singh said:

“Taxpayers have a right to know their money is being spent wisely but blanket application of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is not the way to achieve this goal. The FOIA is a useful tool but is neither necessary nor sufficient to improve transparency.  

“Freedom of Information was designed for large organisations and public bodies. It confers significant burdens on participating organisations with limited results. It could choke the organisations we need to help the most vulnerable, rather than open them up.  

“We need an honest, mature conversation about how we achieve transparency in public services, not whataboutery on the abstract virtues of a particular Act. Apply this tool without sensitivity or forethought and we risk harming public services and cutting charities out of the running to deliver them, and harming the vulnerable people that depend on those services in turn.”

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