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Friday 8 March 2019
Until now Scottish registered social housing providers have not been deemed public authorities for the purpose of the Freedom of information (Scotland) Act 2002. However, from November 2019 that will change, when housing associations in Scotland come under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.
The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Designation of Persons as Scottish Public Authorities) Order 2019 was published in February announcing the change.
This move may be the precursor to a similar change in definition for the rest of the UK. Currently registered housing providers in England and Wales are not subject to the Freedom of information Act 2000 and therefore do not have a statutory obligation to answer questions.
That is not to say that registered housing providers do not regularly and readily answer questions from customers, the public and the media.
The National Housing Federation code of government states that housing providers should operate in an open and accountable manner by generally making information about their work available to residents, local communities and other stakeholders.
In addition, the information commissioner has ruled that housing associations are subject to the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) which allow public access to environmental information.