Charity Commission fully responded to lowest proportion of freedom of information requests last year

The Charity Commission was the least likely of any major government department or body to fully respond to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act last year, new figures show. 

Statistics published by the Cabinet Office yesterday showed that in 2020, more than 44,000 requests using freedom of information legislation were made across a total of 41 government departments and other bodies with “significant regulatory, policy-making or information handling functions”. 

The figures show that of all the requests that were deemed to be resolvable, 41 per cent were granted in full, down two percentage points on the previous year. This is the lowest such figure since recording started in 2005.

A total of 17 per cent were partially withheld, and 38 per cent were fully withheld, down from 39 per cent in 2019.

The figures show the Charity Commission granted in full just 18 per cent of all “resolvable requests” and 19 per cent of “resolvable requests excluding procedural removals”, which combined to form the lowest rate of any of the central bodies included in the research. 

It partially withheld information in 50 per cent of resolvable cases, the figures show, and fully withheld information in 18 per cent of such cases. 

Overall, of the 17,191 requests withheld in full or in part in 2020, 11,711 cited exemptions relating to the nature of the requested information as a cause for withholding the information.

Section 40 (covering personal information) was by far the most commonly cited exemption, listed in 44.8 per cent of exemptions.

While Section 22 (information intended for future publication) was cited in 10.6 per cent of exemptions.

Overall, no other exemption was cited in more than 10 per cent of the time. 

The Charity Commission had the second highest rate of using Section 40 exemptions among the 41 bodies included in the research, the figures show. 

Freedom of information legislation requires public bodies to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, unless they are subject to a permitted deadline extension. 

The commission responded to 94 per cent of all requests within this legal timeframe.

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