The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations. Anyone can request information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live.
A person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, be supplied with that information.
Before you start
- Check if we have already published the information under our Publication Scheme
- To find out what personal information we hold about you make a Subject Access Request in writing or email Information Governance team.
When we might not be able to provide all the information you ask for
We will try to make as much information available as possible. However, we may sometimes have a good reason for withholding information.
The FOIA contains a number of exemptions where we are not obliged to release the information. Some of these are 'absolute'. Others are 'qualified'.
Those that are absolute exemptions where the Combined Authority may withhold the information without considering any public interest arguments
Those that are qualified i.e., that, although an exemption may apply to the information it will nevertheless have to be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding the information is greater than the public interest in releasing it; this is called a Public Interest Test.
In respect of the absolute exemptions, the Combined Authority does not have to confirm or deny that it holds the information if to do so would in itself provide exempt information.
The EIR similarly contains a number of exceptions where we are not obliged to release the information. All exceptions under EIR are qualified and require the Combined Authority to conduct a Public Interest Test.
The Public Interest Tests
The public interest test requires that information should be withheld under exemption if, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
If the information falls under a qualified exemption, we will determine whether the public interest lies in releasing or withholding the information, and provide you with reasons for our decision if the information is not disclosed
There are various reasons why information may be withheld, for example:
- Disclosure would or would likely harm the effective conduct of public affairs; law enforcement, the economy; commercial interests; law enforcement and investigations; health and safety; national security or defence
- The information is reasonably available through other means, for example, such as the publication scheme, or online, or accessible under other legislation
- Information in draft form.
- Disclosure would breach confidentiality or contravene Data Protection legislation
- Information that is no longer readily available as it is contained in files that have been placed in archive storage or is difficult to access for similar reasons.
- Information we no longer have under our retention policy.
How do I make a request?
When making a request it must be put in writing (faxes and e-mails are acceptable) and include the following:
- Your name and address or email for correspondence
- The information you would like to access – please be as specific as possible to help us deal with your request quickly
- The format by which you would like to receive the information for example, braille, paper copy or electronic via e-mail.
All requests must be clearly marked as an FOI request and addressed to:
Post: Information Governance Team
Greater Manchester Combined Authority,
56 Oxford Street,
In some cases, we may need to transfer or consult with one of partners in Greater Manchester in order to reach a decision on whether the information you have requested can be provided. If you wish to be notified before we transfer or consult on your request, please say when you contact us.
What happens when I make a request?
Providing we hold the information, and it is not subject to any exemptions we will try and provide you with the information as soon as possible or within 20 working days of receipt of the request.
What happens if the Combined Authority doesn’t understand my request?
If the Officer does not understand your request, they will contact you direct to clarify what it is you want.
What does it cost?
The costs of supplying information in the form requested will be taken into consideration when individual requests are received.
Material which is published and accessed on the website can be downloaded free of charge.
The Authority does not make charges for reasonable requests for hard copy information. However, if a charge for information is applicable, this will be in respect of:
- reproducing any document containing the information g., printing or photocopying
- postage and other forms of transmitting the information.
Where a charge is applicable, you will be sent a fees notice specifying the fee and the requirement to pay within 3 months of the fees notice being issued. If the Authority does not receive payment within that period, it is no longer obliged to respond to your request.
Most information requests will generally be processed free of charge. We do not charge for officer time spent answering your request, but we are not obliged to provide you with information if it would involve more than 18 hours work. In these cases, we will contact you and provide assistance with how your request can be modified or narrowed. If you amend your request, this will be treated as a new request.
What happens if my request is refused?
We may refuse a request for information if it falls under one of the exemptions. If this is the case, then the reply you receive will explain why.
If you are not satisfied with the decision, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. How you can do this will also be explained in the letter or email you receive.
If, after a review, we are still unable to provide the information you have requested you can ask the Information Commissioner to review that decision:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel: 0303 123 1113
Using the information we supply
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access information, but it does not give you the right to make any further use of that information without permission.
Some of the information we give you may be covered by our copyright, and some of it may be covered by other people's copyright. If you copy, publish or re-use this information without express permission you may be breaching copyright.
If applicable, any re-use of information released to you must be accordance with the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (external website).
We reserve the right to publish a copy of the information we give you under FOIA on our website or by any other means.