Freedom of Information (FOI) is a valuable resource for the voluntary sector. FOI provides a right to see the information held by Scottish public authorities – information that can help you in campaigning and advocacy work.
FOI has been used to access information on a huge range of issues, from the availability of services for disabled people, to the rationale behind the funding decisions made by central or local government. For more information see the website of the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Voluntary sector organisations are not subject to FOI law, which currently only applies to Scottish public authorities, and the companies that are wholly-owned by public authorities. Requests for information received by voluntary organisations do not, therefore, qualify as FOI requests, and there is no legal duty to respond.
Organisations that receive funding from Scottish public authorities are not covered by FOI. Information requests may, however, be made to the public authority that provides the funding, and it would be the duty of that organisation to respond to those requests, but only in terms of the relevant information that the organisation holds.
While voluntary organisations are not covered by FOI, they will have legal responsibilities under the Data Protection Act if they hold personal data.