Response 1009845493

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Elizabeth Cairns

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Ticked Organisation

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Unite the union


1. Do you agree that freedom of information legislation should be extended to Registered Social Landlords, as proposed in this consultation paper?

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Ticked Yes

2. Freedom of Information can be extended to organisations that undertake ‘functions of a public nature’. You may wish to provide comments on how you consider that RSLs undertake functions of a public nature, for example, with reference to the factors referred to earlier in the consultation paper.

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Unite welcomes any opportunity for engagement with the Scottish Parliament on extending coverage and improving access to publicly held information as we regard Freedom of Information (FOI) as an essential component for engaging civic society. There has been a significant increase in public sector services being delivered by private sector organisations, arms-length companies and third party bodies which lie outwith the scope of FOI rules. Public service delivery models have changed significantly since the FOI Act came into force in January 2005, which it is argued has delivered cost and efficiency savings for taxpayers. Unite believes that Registered Social Landlord provide such a service and as such fits the description of 'service of a public nature' such as: • the functions are of a nature that would require them to be performed by a public authority if the body did not perform them; • the body exercises significant powers; • they are subject to state regulation, oversight or control. • the public have lost rights to access information under the Act due to the outsourcing of public service delivery. For example 15,000 council house tenants lost their information rights when their properties were transferred to RSLs. • they achieve some collective benefit for the public and is accepted by the public as being entitled to do so eg on regeneration and wider action programmes.

3. The proposed order would be expected to come into force on 1 April 2018. Do you consider this a reasonable timescale, allowing for preparation for inclusion?

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Ticked Yes

5. We would welcome comments on how these proposals might impact on ‘Equality Groups’ i.e. in respect of age, gender, race, religion, disability, sexuality, children’s rights etc. Comments will inform the Equalities Impact Assessment and Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment to be completed following consultation.

Unite is supportive of the comments made on this issue by the Campaign for Freedom of Information Scotland. In particular we are equally disappointed that no human rights impact assessment was undertaken on a proposal to amend FoISA. An Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessment (EqHRIA) has been developed by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland . As this proposal involves interpretation of Article 10 of the ECHR, there should be more detail about the impact of this proposal on the right to form an opinion by receiving and imparting information. Also, giving due consideration to recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Unite believes that the duties of Scottish Government Ministers under the Scotland Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998 make the extension of access to information rights inevitable to tenant groups, journalists, bloggers etc. – see below. 2.7 Unite is pleased however that a child’s right impact assessment has been undertaken.