Government refuses to extend FOI to social housing

The government has rejected an amendment to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill to bring housing associations under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information has been calling for this change and has highlighted over 20 examples of providers refusing requests for information about fire safety, health hazards, empty properties and other issues.

The Bill, as it stands, proposes a new and alternative ‘access to information scheme’ for social housing tenants. The Campaign has serious doubts about how effective this will be compared to the Freedom of Information Act. For example, it is not clear on what grounds housing associations will be able to refuse requests.

The Campaign has also been briefing MPs about the public interest defence under the National Security Bill. The Campaign has warned that the broad drafting of the bill's offences would expose some civil society organisations and journalists to wholly unjustified risk of prosecution and lengthy prison sentences. The House of Lords failed to pass amendments last week that would provide people charged under the National Security Bill with a public interest defence.

See: Campaign for Freedom of Information