Your Freedom of Information Act: Making requests, tips and ideas for Campaigns, Media exposure and to know your rights

Much of this website and it’s forerunner consent.me.uk relies heavily upon disclosures made through Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests. In this endeavour the preeminent resource has to be: whatdotheyknow.com (WDTK)

This is because WDTK makes FOI requests easy to do and track progress, but crucially the whole process is open to the public. So everyone can learn from having full access to the actual requests and subsequent disclosures, refusals, internal reviews and any follow up annotations of challenges via Information Rights Tribunals.

Know Your Rights

FOI requests are very good for knowing your rights, particularly with regards Winning Benefit Appeals, at the Jobcentre, Universal Jobmatch, Avoiding Workfare and defeating Work Programme sanctions to name a few.

Boycott Workfare

Recently Boycott Workfare used FOI requests to publish it’s research on UK councils using half a million hours of workfare, followed up by media reports in the likes of the Mirror and Guardian.

FOI directory

Whilst WDTK is very good, it only allows for one FOI request to be made at a time and for anyone wanting to send an FOI directly by email it only discloses one address at a time. This is where the ‘FOI directory‘ comes in really handy, as they have produced useful resources like a complete list of FOI email address for all 435 City, Borough and District Local Councils: http://foidirectory.co.uk/city-borough-district-councils-foi/

Send hundreds of FOI requests individually addressed

The above kind of resource can be useful with the Mail Merge functions of most Email software to send each Council an individually addressed request. Mozilla Thunderbird is  free open-source email software and has a Mail Merge add-on. Check ‘How to do an email merge in Thunderbird

Expose cruel and vindictive companies like Seetec

Seetec is one of the DWP’s Work Programme Providers who in just one week asked the DWP to make destitute 4,417 people by benefit sanctions.

In a 5 week period Seetec tried to sanction benefits of nearly 13,000 people (Weeks 18 to 22). In one week alone it called to make 4,417 people destitute (Week 20), compared to 2 by Prospects.

Help the DWP reach it’s FOI target of 8,000 requests

To help reach this target go to: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/dwp and submit your FOI requests now and often. In 2013 it’s reached it’s target of 4000 requests.

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