Annual funds dedicated to refreshment and food costs for Stormont House and the associated buildings from 2019 to present

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FOI 26-22

6 July 2022


Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”)

I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) has processed your request dated 13 May 2022 in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In your request, you asked:

“The information I'm requesting is as follows:

Records of the details of the annual (and if possible specific details, dates, items, receipts) amount of funds dedicated to both refreshment, and food costs for Stormont House and associated buildings if possible from 2019 to present.”


Following a request from the business area, clarification of your request was sought
on 19 May 2022 as follows:

I would like to know if you could be more specific in relation to which records you require in relation to refreshment and food costs at the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission within Parliament Buildings on the Stormont Estate. If you are specifically wanting to know about Stormont House and its associated buildings, you would need to contact the Northern Ireland Office.”


Your response of 30 May 2022 provided the following clarification:

“I'm getting back to you in regards to 'FOI: 26-22' to clarify what I meant by food and beverage costs from 2019 to present at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

By this statement I am referring to the catering contract but also any food or beverages not covered by the catering contact but still paid for with public funds, i.e. expensed meals or coffee purchased for meetings, food ordered for meetings etc.”

Hospitality and refreshments cover the cost to the Assembly Commission for providing these services at meetings or other events. In terms of the catering contract cost, the Assembly Commission requires that catering services are provided during business hours and for events / functions. Where the cost of providing these services exceeds the monies taken in, the extra operating cost is incurred by the Assembly Commission.

In order to provide advice and assistance as per Section 16 of the FOIA, the Assembly Commission has provided you with a breakdown of the hospitality, refreshments and overall catering contract expenditure incurred by the Assembly Commission at Parliament Buildings in Appendix A. The information attached was what the Assembly Commission could provide to you within the scope of the Section 12(1) Fees Limit of FOIA.

Section 12(1) of the FOIA allows the Assembly Commission to decline to answer FOIA requests when it is estimated that it would cost more than £600 (equivalent to 3½ working days’ worth of work, calculated at £25 per hour as determined by the Information Commissioners’ Office) to identify, locate, extract, and then provide the information that has been asked for.

The Assembly Commission’s electronic payment processing system records that there are in excess of 3,200 transactions covering the three categories set out in your request. It is estimated that the costs to provide “details, dates, items and receipts” for each transaction could cost the Assembly Commission approximately £6.7k, which considerably exceeds the Assembly Commission’s fee limit of £600.


Fee calculation:

Approximately, 3,200 x 5 minutes = approximately 16,000 minutes

Approximately 16,000 minutes = approximately 267 hours

Approximately 267 x £25 per hour = approximately £6.7k

You can find out more about Section 12(1) by reading the extract from the Act and some guidance points we consider when applying this exemption, attached here.

You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address. If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.


Yours sincerely



Appendix A

Hospitality, refreshments and overall catering contract expenditure incurred by the Assembly Commission at Parliament Buildings

Financial year


















Catering Contract












*The figures for 2022/23 are from 01/04/2022 up to and including 30/05/2022.

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