Access to information
- as part of the government commitment to public sector transparency
- as required by the Freedom of Information Act under our publication scheme
Your legal right of access to public information not already published, is covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). Before submitting a request for information, you should see if it is already publicly available. And your legal right to access information about yourself is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
You can contact [email protected] to request information under the Freedom of Information Act, the Environmental Information Regulations or the Data Protection Act.
Freedom of Information Act rights
The FOIA provides a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. It places a number of obligations on public authorities and sets out exemptions from that right. The FOIA applies to Ofwat as Ofwat is a public authority. We have a responsibility under the FOIA to provide information in response to any written request, normally within 20 working days. The FOIA is retrospective and therefore applies to records both recent and old.
We plan to respond positively to most requests for information. The exemptions provided by the FOIA protect the public interest. We will apply these as appropriate.
The Ministry of Justice collects and publishes statistics on the handling of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act by over 40 central government bodies, including Ofwat.
View the performance of participating bodies.
Environmental Information Regulations rights
The EIRs provide a right of access to environmental information held by public authorities. Environmental information covers a wide range of areas defined in the regulations. Our duties to provide information under the EIR are similar to those under the FOIA. Section 39 of the FOIA ensures that that requests for “environmental information” within the meaning of the EIRs are dealt with under the separate access regime set out by those Regulations. Requests for information made under the EIR need not be in writing.
Detailed information on the EIRs is available from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)and the ICO.
The differences between FOIA and EIRs
- EIRs only cover environmental information. FOIA covers all information held by public authorities except environmental information.
- EIRs allow an extension of no more than a further 20 working days if the request is both complex and voluminous. FOIA allows public authorities further time to consider the public interest.
- EIRs requests can be in any format. FOIA requests must be in writing.
- EIRs allows authorities to make a charge for information providing it is reasonable. FOIA has a charge limit below which information is provided free of charge.
- EIRs have a different, and generally narrower, range of exceptions than the exemptions in the FOIA. There is however a particular exception in the EIRs for information whose disclosure could adversely affect the environment.
Data Protection Act Rights
The Data Protection Act 1998 (the Act) gives individuals the right to request and in most cases to be given, a copy of the information which Ofwat holds about them. This is called a subject access request.
Please note that the Act only entitles an individual to see, or be given a copy of, their own information. You are not entitled to see someone else’s information unless they have given their permission for you to do so. Likewise, someone else cannot ask for your information unless you have given permission for them to do so. This applies to spouses, relatives, friends etc.
If you want to see, or be given, a copy of information that Ofwat holds about you, you will need to make your request in writing. Your request must include enough information about yourself and the information that you are seeking to enable Ofwat to identify you and your information, and you must provide proof of identity and the relevant fee.
To submit a request, please complete and return our subject access request form. You can put in a request:
- by completing and submitting our online subject access request form
- by downloading, completing, printing and sending us a paper version of the subject access request form
For further information access enquiries please contact [email protected] or telephone 0121 644 7664.
Charges and fees
We hope to provide most information requested free of charge. However, there are some limited instances where we ask for costs to be reimbursed.
Charges for photocopying and postage
When we send you information in paper format, you will be asked to pay photocopying, printing and postage costs. In line with MoJ guidance, we will waive charges which are less than £10. Our charges are given below.
- we will charge 10p per page for information we provide you in paper format
- we will use our current postal delivery services to despatch information to you and will select the cheapest option available to us unless you tell us otherwise.
Fees – requests made under FOIA
For information requested under FOIA we may make charge fees as set out by the MoJ. If fees apply we will let you know what they will be in advance. Under the MoJ fees guidance, if we estimate that the cost of:
- determining whether we hold the information; and
- locating it, retrieving it and extracting it
is more than £600, we are not obliged to comply with the request. £600 is equivalent to three and a half days work at a set rate of £25 per hour.
Fees – requests made under EIR
For information requested under the EIRs there are no cost limits.
Fees – Access to Ofwat register
The fees payable for any inspection of the contents of the Ofwat register or the supply of a certified copy of, or extract from, the contents of the register are set out in our notice on access to the Ofwat register.
Problems with information
Requests for information we do not hold
If you ask us for information we do not hold, we will do our best to direct you to another organisation that we think should be able to help you, and to provide you with their contact details.
We are the economic regulator of the water industry in England and Wales. Other information may be held by the quality regulators, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate, or by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Surveillance Camera Self-Assessment (Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Office)
Ofwat is not currently required to complete the self-assessment as it does not own the premises it operates from and is not the data controller for the images created by any equipment used on the premises.
Requests for information we have obtained from a third party
Third parties include for example, water companies or organisations tendering for a contract. We encourage third parties to publish their own information themselves.
If you ask us for information supplied to us by a third party we will apply the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions and Environmental Information Regulations exceptions as necessary to protect the public interest. And we normally inform third parties before we release any of their information that is not currently in the public domain.
In the case of water companies, we collect some information from them under the provisions of the Water Industry Act 1991 (WIA91), The WIA91 also normally prevents us from disclosing this information without their consent. If the WIA91 prevents us from disclosing information, then the FOIA also says that we do not have to disclose the information.
Refusal to provide information
If we decide not to release the information you ask us for, and you are unhappy with our decision, you should first ask us to carry out an internal review.
This notice sets out:
- the times at which the contents of the register are available for inspection by the public; and
- the fees that must be paid for, or in connection with, any inspection or the supply by Ofwat of a certified copy of, or extract from, the contents of the register.
Much of the information held on our register is freely available on our website or elsewhere online, including:
- water company licences
- price review determinations
- details of formal enforcement action (including financial penalties)
- the project specification and preparatory works notices for the Thames Tideway Tunnel
- information about individual agreements entered into by water companies (the special agreements register)
Other information may be available free of charge on request.
The contents of the register will be available for inspection at Ofwat’s office in Centre City Tower, 7 Hill Street, Birmingham B5 4UA from 1 July 2015 onwards between the hours of 9.30am and 1pm and 2pm and 4.30pm on Monday to Friday of each week except when the office is closed on public or other holidays or by reason of an emergency or industrial action.
The fees payable for an inspection of the contents of the register are:
- where an appointment has been arranged at least 24 hours in advance: £0
- in all other cases: £20.
Certified copies or extracts
The fee payable for a certified copy of, or extract from, the contents of any part of the register is a fee calculated as follows:
- £20 for any number of pages of the copy or extract supplied up to and including twenty pages and 50 pence for each additional page, and
- and where the contents of the register are larger than A3 size, the actual costs incurred by Ofwat (including VAT where applicable) in arranging for a copy or copies to be made by an external printing service (including the cost of transporting the relevant contents of the register to and from the external printing service)
Information about Ofwat
The Government has set out the need for greater transparency across its operations to enable the public to hold public bodies and politicians to account.
As part of our commitment to transparency we publish the following information about Ofwat:
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT) contracts awarded since July 2010 worth more than £10,000
- Other contracts since January 2011 awarded worth more than £10,000
- Invitations to Tender (ITTs) worth more than £10,000 since September 2010
- Expenditure transactions over £25000 since April 2010
- Government procurement card (GPC) logs over £500 since April 2013
- Senior managers and non-executive directors expenses since April 2009
- Senior salaries and organisation chart since June 2010
- Workforce management information since April 2012* (data was previously published by Defra)
Additional government data is available through data.gov.uk.
You may also be interested in our forward programme and our annual report and resource accounts. These contain information about the work we are planning to do, the work we have done and our financial accounts. We are required to publish these by law.
We collect some information and data from the water companies. Data that is publicly available can be found in our water sector overview.
You may be able to request data and information that has not already been published under the Freedom of Information Act or the Environmental Information Regulations.
*Notes to accompany the monthly workforce management information
- These figures are not official statistics. They are internal workforce management information published in the interests of transparency.
- These figures have not been reconciled centrally with any National Statistics. Where differences appear between the monthly information and National Statistics, clarifying comments will be provided. The ONS quarterly public sector employment statistics provide an official headline measure for comparing the overall size of employment in central government organisations with other sectors of the economy at the relevant quarterly reference point.
- Some organisations may not have information available for each month, and at this stage coverage may therefore not reach 100% for those organisations in scope.
- Given the wide range of organisations covered, caution should be exercised when drawing inferences from the figures and care should be taken when making comparisons between organisations.
Our information resources
Our website is updated daily and we will regularly review the information we publish to ensure it is up to date and as comprehensive as possible.
As a public body, we have a duty to retain proper records of our activities. This duty does not, however, require us to retain all information indefinitely. The guiding principle is to retain information that allows key regulatory decisions to be explained.
Full details on our retention and disposal of information.