FoI should be extended to providers

By Michael Burton | 30 January 2019
  • Michael Burton

Should contractors providing services to the public sector be subject to the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act? In a report to Parliament this week the Information Commissioner believes they should; in response the CBI says the 'clumsily thought-out' proposals will harm competition and saddle firms with extra costs.

The headline news collapse of Carillion and the Grenfell Tower fire has highlighted the issue. Neither Carillion or the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation - which managed the council's housing stock - were subject to FoI as only companies that are wholly-owned by public authorities are covered by the Act. Yet concern about the disparity in transparency between the public sector and its suppliers has been rumbling on for years. Indeed, in The MJ's recent round table with the National Audit Office on transparency, several participants complained about the different levels of accountability between partners and their councils (see p14)

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