Question to the Cabinet Office:
To ask His Majesty's Government how the costs of responding to freedom of information requests involving the disclosure of emails are calculated; and when the limit of £600, beyond which cost the request can be refused, was last uprated.
Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 allows public authorities to refuse to deal with any requests where they estimate that responding to the request would exceed the “appropriate limit”, known as the “cost limit”.
If a public authority calculates that responding to a request will take it over the appropriate limit it is not obliged to provide a substantive response. The cost limit is calculated at a flat rate of £25 per hour and since 2004 has been set at £600 for central government departments and £450 for other public authorities. Public authorities can only include certain activities when estimating whether responding to a request would breach the cost limit. These are: establishing whether information is held; locating and retrieving information; and extracting relevant information from the document containing it.