Correspondence types and case compliance in financial year ending March 2020: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

How many correspondence cases did Scottish Government receive in the financial year ending March 2020 split across the various types (complaints, FOI, DPR, etc.)? Please also include any stats on compliance regarding timely responses where relevant.

What volume of cases received from April - Sept 2020 were COVID19 specific (numerically and as a percentage of the total)?


01/04/2019 to 31/03/2020

In this period we received 32,938 pieces of Ministerial correspondence. The Scottish Government aims to provide a response to Ministerial correspondence, where possible, within 20 working days. 81% of Ministerial correspondence cases were responded to within 20 working days.

In this period we received 94 Stage 1 complaints and 44 Stage 2 complaint investigation requests. The Scottish Government aims to provide a response to Stage 1 complaints (frontline resolution) within 5 working days. For Stage 2 complaint investigations the aim is 20 working days. 76% of Stage 1 cases were responded to within 5 working days; 28% of Stage 2 investigations were responded to within 20 working days.

Subject Access Requests
In this period we received 114 Subject Access Requests (SARS) and 6 Deletion Requests. Legislative compliance is one calendar month as per the Data Protection Act 2018 and Article 17 of the GDPR. 96% of SARS and 100% of deletion requests were answered within one calendar month.

Freedom of Information
For the purposes of responding to this request I have assumed that FOI refers both to requests we have received in relation to FOISA and also the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRS).

In this period we received 2992 requests 230 reviews. Legislative compliance is 20 working days as per s.10 of FOISA and r.5(2) of EIRS. We publish our FOI/EIR request and review compliance monthly and is available at:

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy. 

COVID19 specific
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. This is because we would have to check each case individually to determine if it is Covid-19 specific as our case management system does not categorise cases by subject matter. Rather it has a case summary field being free text that will depend on how a piece of correspondence was described by a case handler when logged.

We consider that if we were to attempt this exercise for all types of correspondence cases, the £600 cost limit would be significantly exceeded. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12. You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. It is likely that the most useful way to do this would be to give us a much smaller time frame, this will allow us to undertake a more focussed search.

You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

By way of context I can advise that since 1 April 2020, we received 68,446 pieces of Ministerial correspondence and 1,730 FOI/EIR requests. I would estimate that a significant proportion of these would be related to Covid-19.

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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