Our response to Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) may take longer for us to complete at the moment because of COVID-19 implications. Freedom of Information staff can work productively from home but are mindful that many CCG staff are involved in crucial work to support North East Hampshire and Farnham residents through this difficult time, and this may impact their ability to provide the information needed to respond to some requests in a timely manner.
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has advised that although they are unable to extend statutory timescales, they will advise people that they may experience understandable delays when making FOIs, EIRs or SARs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is your request essential?
While your statutory right of access remains unchanged, our resources may be diverted away from usual compliance or information rights work at this time. Therefore, we would ask that where possible, before submitting any requests for information that you check our website first, as it may be already published and available.
Prioritising essential services
If you cannot find the information, please be aware that under current circumstances and our need to prioritise essential services to ensure the wellbeing of our residents, you may experience a delay in your response.
Following guidance from the ICO, we will keep requestors informed of any delays and will respond as soon as resources allow. We will also be keeping up to date on guidance from the ICO as the situation changes to ensure that we comply with any changes or amendments to information rights practice.
A message from the Information Commissioners Office:
FOI and the coronavirus: a measured approach
The ICO recognises the unprecedented challenges all are facing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In particular we understand that resources, whether they are finances or people, may be diverted away from usual compliance or information rights work. Whilst we can’t extend statutory timescales, we will not be penalising public authorities for prioritising other areas or adapting their usual approach during this extraordinary period.
To further support our information rights colleagues, we will tell people through our own communications channels that they may experience understandable delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic.
We are a reasonable and pragmatic regulator, one that does not operate in isolation from matters of serious public concern. Regarding compliance with information rights work when assessing a complaint brought to us during this period, we will take into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency.
We are here to help you, information is available on our website or via our helpline on 0303 123 1113.