Scottish charities fear Freedom of Information Act requests will harm funding relationships, says report

Study from University of Strathclyde is cause for concern, says Scottish Information Commissioner

The more funding that voluntary sector organisations receive from local authorities, the less likely they are to ask for information under the Freedom of Information Act, according to research published this week.

A report from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow shows that 50 per cent of 705 Scottish voluntary sector organisations said they would be discouraged from making requests for information under the act for fear that it might harm working or funding relationships.

Most of the survey respondents - 83.5 per cent - were funded either wholly or partly by public authorities, and the higher the level of funding they received the less likely they were to make a request, the report says.

One respondent said that a request for information had brought only a covering note from the authority saying that its demands would damage their working relations. Others admitted to making requests through third parties to avoid a backlash.

Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, said: "It is a great concern that organisations in receipt of public funds are timid in holding authorities to account. It is partly a perception issue, but there is strong anecdotal evidence that some organisations are experiencing a negative response."

The report also shows that some authorities are not meeting the legal obligation of giving out information about the appeal process when rejecting requests.

Hollie Clemence recommends

Scottish Information Commissioner

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