The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives the public the right to access recorded information held by public bodies. It’s applied to us since November 2011.

Anyone can make a freedom of information request, including organisations. You don’t have to be a UK citizen or live in the UK. 

This means you can ask us for any information you think we may hold in a recorded form. We’ll then tell you if we have it and, if we do, give you a copy – unless there’s an exemption. The Information Commissioner’s Office website describes various exemptions that could apply.

We’ve always been open about how we work - and we already publish a lot of information about our service on our website. Our publication scheme provides a guide to the information that's available without the need to make a specific written request.

Making a freedom of information request:

  • Before you make a freedom of information request, please check our website to see if it has what you need. If you want information about a specific case you have with us, ask the person handling it for you.

  • You can ask for any information we might hold. You can ask a general question or request specific documents. But to help us provide what you’re looking for, please be as specific as possible.

    You can also request information about other people under the Freedom of Information Act. However, if it would reveal personal information about them, we may not be able to provide it.

  • In general, when we receive a request for information, we'll confirm whether we have that information. If we do, we'll pass the information on to the person who asked for it.

    But we do hold some information which might not be suitable to give out to the public. There are some reasons why we might be exempt from releasing information – as well as from confirming whether or not we hold certain information – and these are set out in the legislation.

    We also might not be able to answer your question if:

    • it means we need to create new information
    • we have to give an opinion or judgment which isn’t already recorded
    • it’s likely to cost us more than £450 or involve over 18 hours of work to find and provide you with the information
  • If you want to see personal information that we hold about you or information about your case, let the person looking into your complaint know what you want.

    Individuals can't request information about themselves under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 – these requests are covered by data protection laws. Depending on what you need, you might need to make a right of access request.

  • No. We don’t charge for making a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

  • If you’d like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act, email our information rights team at [email protected]

    Please note, in light of the government guidance on the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak we are currently unable to receive post. Find out more about how our service is being impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

    You’ll also need to include your full name and an email or postal address for us to respond to. 

    We can’t accept requests over the phone because legislation says your request must be in writing.

  • Sometimes, we’ll need more information before we can start dealing with your request. If so, we’ll let you know. Otherwise, we’ll reply as soon as we can, or within 20 working days after we’ve received your request. If we need more time, or if we can’t provide you with a copy of the information, we’ll explain why.

  • If you’re not satisfied with our response, contact our information rights team as soon as possible – and within two months from the date of our response.

    email our information rights team at: [email protected]

    Please note, in light of the government guidance on the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak we are currently unable to receive post. Find out more about how our service is being impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

    We’ll get back to you as soon we can – and always within 20 working days.

    If you’re still unhappy after we’ve reviewed our response, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office. Find out how to contact them on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

    phone: 0303 123 1113 
    email: [email protected]
    website: www.ico.org.uk 

Freedom of Information requests and response – entries between 1 April 2019 and 30 June 2019

The Financial Ombudsman Service has been subject to the Freedom of Information Act since November 2011. Our publication scheme provides a guide to the information that's available without the need to make a specific written request. In July 2018, the Cabinet Office issued a new section 45 code of practice, which requires public authorities to publish certain information in our scheme – including statistical data about FOI requests.

The following table shows the number of requests we handled in the first three quarters of 2019/2020 and how we responded.

  Q1 Q2 Q3
Overview   
Number of FOI requests which were due to be responded to 107 109 122
Percentage of FOIs responded to on time 65% 72% 57%
Percentage of FOIs responded to after the deadline 35% 28% 43% 
Percentage of requests which remain outstanding 0% 0% 0% 
       
How we responded    
Percentage of requests where the information wasn't held 7% 5% 4% 
Percentage of requests where the information was provided in full 43% 40% 31% 
Percentage of requests where the information was provided in part 20% 21% 17% 
Percentage of requests where the information requested was refused 30% 34% 48% 
       
Number of times we applied the following exemptions to requests we responded to in part or where the information was refused   
Section 40(1) - own personal data  22 18 20 
Section 12 - cost exemption 17 20
Other exemptions 49 38 79 
       
Review   
Number of internal reviews 6 4 36 

 

About the exemptions we applied

We always try to help as much as we can and be open and transparent about the work we do, but it isn’t always appropriate to share the information we hold to the public at large. Where this is the case, we may apply an exemption. Sometimes we may apply an exemption to part of a request or sometimes we may apply an exemption to the whole of a request. Sometimes we apply more than one exemption to a single request.

The most common exemption applied in this quarter was section 8 and 14 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This has been applied to one individual who has made multiple requests in a bid to cause disruption to the ombudsman service. They have used a pseudonym and haven’t used the Act in the purpose in which it was intended.

The second most common exemption applied was section 12. Section 12 means that we aren’t able to provide the information because the time taken to find, locate or retrieve the information is estimated to exceed the appropriate limit set out in the legislation, which for us is 18 hours. This usually applies when individuals ask for granular information about the complaints, we see which we just aren’t able to provide without manually reviewing complaints in detail. Given the volume of enquiries we receive each year and the number of cases we investigate and resolve this just simply isn’t possible.

Whenever we apply section 12 we always try to provide the requestor with some information that they may find helpful, such as pointing them to our online technical resource or case studies so they can see how we approach different types of complaints – or to our decisions database where they can search for specific decisions using the free text search function.