Rural Payments Agency failings

The Rural Payments Agency fails to deal with most information requests it receives within the legal time limits, according to the latest set of FOI statistics published today.

The RPA, which issues subsidy payments to farmers in England, managed to meet the legal deadline in only 47 per cent of cases in the first quarter of 2021, the period covered by these figures. This was by far the worst record of delay among the departments and agencies monitored in these statistics – and continues a pattern of the RPA’s comparative poor performance.

The government department with the worst record of delay was DCMS.

Generally there was a 10 per cent increase in the number of FOI requests to the UK government departments and agencies monitored compared to the same period last year, after drops in the intervening months doubtless linked to the pandemic.

Organisations which have received significantly more requests include the Department of Health and Social Care (hardly surprisingly), the Charity Commission and the Office for National Statistics.

The longer term overall picture, as seen in my chart, is that the level of FOI requests to government departments increased steadily after FOI came into force in 2005 until it peaked in 2013, since when there has been a slightly bumpy plateau. (The chart is adjusted to reflect the fact that the first quarter of each year tends to see the most requests).

Chart showing FOI requests to UK government departments since 2005

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