Publication - Factsheet

Guide to information published by the Scottish Government

Published: 25 May 2012
Guide setting out how we make information available.
25 May 2012
Guide to information published by the Scottish Government

1. Introduction

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) provides individuals with a right to request any recorded information held by Scotland's public authorities. Anyone can use this right, and information can only be withheld where FOISA expressly permits it.

Section 23 of FOISA also requires that all Scottish public authorities maintain a publication scheme. A publication scheme sets out the types of information that a public authority routinely makes available.

The Scottish Government has adopted the Model Publication Scheme developed and approved by the Scottish Information Commissioner. The Commissioner is responsible for enforcing FOISA.

The Commissioner's Model Publication Scheme is designed to ensure that authorities meet their obligation to take account of the public interest in providing access to the information that they hold which relates to:

  • the services they provide
  • the costs of those services
  • the standard of those services
  • the facts that inform the important decisions they take
  • the reasoning that informs their decisions

We have adopted the Model Publication Scheme without amendment and have made the commitment to publish all information we hold which falls within the classes in the scheme. The information we publish is, where possible, available on this website.

In deciding which information to publish we have also given effect to 'six principles of FOI'.

The Scottish Government's six principles of FOI

The Scottish Government:

  • supports FOI as an essential part of open democratic government and responsive public services. We support the Act's underpinning principles by encouraging behaviour which is open, transparent and increases public participation

  • operates within the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 rather than proposing significant changes to it, but adjusts the regime where it is necessary and sensible to do so. The Act must operate well for both members of the public and Scottish public authorities. We will keep the Act under review by promoting good practice within existing frameworks and considering extending coverage

  • publishes information proactively wherever possible. We will publicly demonstrate our commitment to open government and Freedom of Information by ensuring as much information as possible is made available without having to be asked

  • maintains the exemptions set out in the Act, in particular to protect 'private space' for Ministers and others to consider advice and reach decisions. The Act provides for responsible openness. We will use the exemptions in the Act where appropriate to protect, for instance, the formulation or development of policy, Ministerial communications, or the uninhibited provision of advice

  • maintains effective relationships with the Scottish Information Commissioner and other key stakeholders. We ensure the effective operation of the Act by fostering and maintaining good working relationships on Freedom of Information with stakeholders such as other public authorities and the Scottish Public Information Forum

  • creates and shares information thoughtfully with regard to the principles above. To support the effective application of the Act, we create and share information thoughtfully, deliberately and purposefully with a view to upholding the principles above

We have also considered the types of information which are requested from us routinely and whether they could be published by us more proactively.

If you would like to access information not published under the scheme, you can still request it from us under FOISA or, in the case of environmental information, an Environmental Information Request (EIR).

2. Availability and formats

The information we publish through the model scheme is, wherever possible, available on this site. We offer alternative arrangements for people who do not want to, or cannot, access the information online or by inspection at our premises. For example, we can usually arrange to post information in paper copy (although there may be a charge for this).

3. Making a request

Guidance on how to request information is available on this website.

4. Information that we may withhold

Our aim is to be as open as possible. You should note that there may be circumstances where information will be withheld from publication.

Information will only be withheld, however, where FOISA (or, in the case of environmental information, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004) expressly permits it.

Information may be withheld, for example, where its disclosure would breach the law of confidentiality, harm commercial interests, or endanger the protection of the environment. Information may also be withheld if it is another person's personal information, and its release would breach the data protection legislation.

Where we withhold information we will remove it or redact it before publication and explain why.

If you wish to complain about any information which has been withheld from you, please contact us.

5. Charges

Unless otherwise stated, all information contained within our scheme is available from us free of charge where it can be downloaded from our website or where it can be sent to you by email.

We reserve the right to impose charges for providing information in paper copy or on CD. Charges will reflect the actual costs of reproduction and postage to Scottish Government.

You will be advised of the charge and how it has been calculated. Information will not be provided to you until payment has been received.


Where charges are applied, photocopied information will be charged at a standard rate of 10p per A4 side of paper (black and white copy) and 30p per A4 side of paper (colour copy). We will pass on postage charges at the cost of sending the information by first class post.

We are required by the Equality Act 2010 to make take steps to meet the needs of people who share a relevant protected characteristic. In terms of access to information, this means making reasonable adjustments to our practices to ensure that information is physically accessible. This may, for example, involve producing information in a larger script or different format where it is practicable to do so. The costs of this will be met by us.

The information we produce is subject to Crown copyright, which is administered by the Queen's Printer for Scotland. The material listed in this publication scheme is Crown copyright unless stated otherwise.

You may use and re-use Crown copyright information free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms and conditions of the Open Government Licence, provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context. Where any of the Crown copyright items published through this guide are being republished or copied to others, the source of the material must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged.

7. Records management and disposal policy

The Scottish Government has in place Record Retention and Disposition Schedules in respect of all documents that it creates and holds. These Schedules set out the lengths of time for which all types of records must be held. This means that whilst FOISA is retrospective, it is only possible to provide copies of records that are still in existence. The current Scottish Government policy and procedures in relation to records management are set out in the Scottish Government's Record Management Manual.

Some Scottish Government records are selected to be permanently preserved at the National Records of Scotland. The Schedules referred to above set out what types of records will normally be preserved. Once transferred to the National Records of Scotland, these records are made publicly available and are listed on the National Records of Scotland online catalogue.

8. Accessing information that we do not publish

If the information you are seeking is not available through this website, then you may wish to request it from us.

9. Charges for information available only through request

Non-environmental information

The Scottish Government does not charge anyone for making requests for, nor for providing, information under FOISA, but we will refuse to deal with a request where we estimate that it will cost more than £600 to locate, retrieve and provide the information.

Environmental information

The Scottish Government does not charge anyone for making requests for, nor for providing, environmental information under the EIRs, up to a limit of £600. Thereafter we may charge the full cost of providing the information.

In the event that we decide to charge for the full cost of a request under the EIRs costing over £600, we will issue you with notification of the charge and how it has been calculated. If you decide not to proceed with the request there will be no charge to you.

Charges are calculated on the basis of the actual cost to the authority of locating, retrieving and providing the environmental information.

Photocopying is charged at 10p per A4 sheet for black and white copying, 30p per A4 sheet for colour copying.

Postage is charged at actual rate for first class mail.

Staff time is calculated at actual cost per staff member hourly salary rate to a maximum of £15 per person per hour.

10. Contact us

Please send any comments, suggestions or complaints to:

Freedom of Information Unit
Scottish Government
St Andrew's House - 2W
Regent Road


Any complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the Scottish Government Complaints Procedure.

You have legal rights to access information under this scheme and a right of appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner if you are dissatisfied with our response. These rights apply only to information requests made in writing* or another recordable format.

If you are unhappy with our responses to your request, you can ask us to review it. If you are still unhappy, you can make an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle
Doubledykes Road
St Andrews
KY16 9DS

Tel: 01334 464610

*verbal requests for environmental information carry similar rights.



Freedom of Information Unit
Scottish Government
St Andrew's House - 2W
Regent Road