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 or if a request has already been made and responded to by searching the Information Disclosure Logs on the left hand side. And your legal right to access information about yourself is covered by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR 2016).
You can contact [email protected] to request information under the Freedom of Information Act, the Environmental Information Regulations or under Data Protection legislation.
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.
Detailed information on the FOIA is available from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
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.
General Data Protection Regulations rights
The GDPR 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.
You can put in a request 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].
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.
Requests made under EIR
For information requested under the EIRs there are no cost limits.