The great photocopying ripoff

An intersting article in the Eastern Daily Press, a regional newspaper in Norfolk, highlights how some public authorities are charging as much as 50p a page for photocopying under the FOIA. Guidance issued by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, last month said that in most cases, photocopying and printing would be expected to cost no more than 10p per sheet of paper.

But the newspaper found the most expensive council in the region – West Norfolk – is charging five times that. Its 50p per photocopy charge is 10 times the cost of the cheapest councils locally, with both South Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council charging 5p a page. South Norfolk says it will waive charges of less than £25 – up to 499 A4 pages at their 5p rate.

I will be naming and shaming the greediest public authorities in the country, so please send me news about charges you’re asked to pay.

Freedom of information – at a price
28 January 2005
Eastern Daily Press (Cambridge & Norfolk)

Hidden charges in new freedom of information laws have created a postcode lottery that could see councils charge up to £250 for information that would be free from another authority.

An EDP investigation has found a loophole in the law means public bodies can choose to levy hefty bills for answering questions that are supposed to be dealt with for free.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, which came into force this month, thousands of public bodies have a new obligation to answer questions posed by the public.

The law forbids them from charging for staff time unless they have to spend more than two and a half days trawling through records.

But councils, police, health authorities and others are allowed to charge for photocopying and postage costs, meaning requests might be anything but free.

Read the full article here.

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