Majority of British public think companies receiving taxpayer's money should be subject to Freedom of Information laws - 38 Degrees

Freya Wood
Britain National Archives Releases Classified Documents
The British public wants more access to information about companies that receive taxpayers' money (Source: Getty)

Six in 10 Brits believe Freedom of Information (FOI) laws should apply to companies receiving taxpayers' money to provide public services, according to a new poll released today.

The survey, commissioned by campaigns group 38 Degrees and carried out by YouGov, showed only 10 per cent of the British public would oppose applying FOI laws to businesses that carry out public services using government funding.

“It's no surprise that the public wants FOI laws to be stronger,” Lorna Greenwood, campaign manager at 38 Degrees, said.

A spokesperson for Serco, the struggling outsourcing giant that has won many government contracts, told City A.M.: "We fully support a more open approach, particularly one focused on the levels of service being delivered."

Some groups, such as the Taxpayers' Alliance, argue that extending FOI laws to private companies does not go far enough and should include charities and third sector organisations as well.

“Taxpayers' Alliance have been leading the campaign to protect and extend FOI to any organisation, private or charitable, which carries out public services, so it's good to see that sentiment reflected in these poll results,” Dia Chakravarty, Political Director the Taxpayers' Alliance, said.

“Taxpayers have every right to know how their money is being spent and recent incidents demonstrate the need for greater transparency as well as accountability among charities receiving public funds.”

However, Adam Chapman, head of public law and a partner at Kingsley Napley, has said the government is only likely to consider extending FOI to private companies if it is a suggestion put forward by the ongoing Independent Commission on Freedom of Information.

He added that another major consideration will be whether there should be a minimum amount of money companies should receive from the government before they could be covered by an FOI extension.

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