Exceptions to marginal cost pricing

Most government information should be made available for re-use at marginal cost. In practice this often means free of charge, especially where the information is published online. This maximises the social and economic value of the information, and supports the Government’s response to the recommendations made by the Power of Information Taskforce.

We have developed a series of tests, or criteria, to help assess whether charges are appropriate.

Criteria for exceptions to marginal cost pricing (PDF, 0.03MB)

Establishing a business case

Where departments and agencies wish to charge for the re-use of data, they will be required to justify departures from the marginal cost model against the criteria for exceptions for marginal cost pricing. This justification ensures that government does not limit or restrict re-use.

Public sector bodies wishing to apply for approval to charge for information at an exception to marginal cost should consult the application guidelines before completing and submitting the application form.

Exception to marginal cost pricing application guidelines (PDF, 0.08MB)

Exception to marginal cost pricing application form (DOC, 0.07MB)

We also have a flowchart explaining how we deal with applications for exceptions to marginal cost pricing.

Flowchart showing how we deal with applications for exceptions to marginal cost pricing (PDF, 0.02MB)

Exceptions to marginal cost pricing business cases – statistics and information

The National Archives publishes and maintains statistics of exceptions business cases received, assessed and either approved or rejected. This information is published to meet recommendations made in the independent review of the first three years of the Exceptions procedure. The report of that review was published in June 2013.

This information is updated when any new application is received and was last updated in February 2015.

Exceptions business case statistics (XLS, 0.03MB)

Review of the Exception to Marginal Cost Pricing procedure – the first three years

An independent report into the Exceptions to Marginal Cost Pricing criteria and guidance has been published, along with an Executive Summary of the report.

The review was carried out by Chris Corbin, an Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information alumni with expertise in public sector information. The review examined the system introduced in January 2010 to assess business cases from those Crown bodies that wish to charge above marginal cost. The report can be found on the Reports and Publications page.