The British Council supports peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide.

As a UK public body, we are fully committed to transparency in our decision-making processes, how we work and the programmes and services we provide.

Transparency is an important aspect of our accountability to the UK public, Parliament and the people who participate in our programmes and projects. In line with this commitment we ensure a range of information about our organisation is made available on our website for the public to access. Our Information Guide provides more detail and covers the following:

  • Who we are and what we do
  • What we spend and how we spend it
  • What our priorities are and how we are doing
  • How we make decisions
  • Policies and procedures
  • Lists and registers
  • The services we offer


There are circumstances under which we will not make information public. These are:

  • Safety and security: disclosure of information may present a risk to the safety and security of staff, partners, contractors, beneficiaries, clients or donors
  • Operational continuity: disclosure of information may lead to British Council’s or our donors’, partners’ or grantees’ operations being banned, restricted or suspended
  • International relations: disclosure may harm or compromise international relations between the UK and another country, or international relations between any nations
  • Confidentiality: information is confidential on legal, commercial or contractual grounds. We will not publish commercial-in-confidence market intelligence, project proposals, funding agreements, detailed budgets, staff salaries and benefits, consultant and commercial fees, overheads or details of expenditure
  • Ownership of data: information is owned by another organisation and we have no right to disclose it
  • Intellectual property rights: copyright of material belongs to someone else and we cannot give permission for its use
  • Privacy and data protection: disclosure would breach data protection legislation or an individual’s right to privacy
  • Reputation: disclosure might jeopardise our reputation or that of our donors, partners or grantees, affecting our or their relationship with local governments, local organisations or other key stakeholders
  • Cost: the financial or time cost of disclosing the information would be unreasonably high. We are a Non-Departmental Public Body and we need to balance our commitment to transparency with our delivery of results, especially where it involves public funds
  • Status: information is in draft state for staff review only, is an internal communication or an internal administrative or management document
  • Vexatious, offensive or unreasonable requests: we may decline to correspond if a person deliberately behaves in an offensive or abusive manner, aims to obtain information by deceit or otherwise engages in unreasonable conduct
  • Historical information: if the information requested is historical, it may be difficult and costly for us to obtain archived material.

This policy is for information only and therefore is not a binding contract and does not confer legal rights on any person. We reserve intellectual property rights for information and materials provided under this policy, including those materials distributed under an open licence.

We will provide adequate and appropriate resources to implement this policy and will ensure it is communicated and understood.

We will review this policy annually to reflect new legal and regulatory developments and ensure good practice.

This policy was approved by Scott McDonald, Chief Executive, in April 2024 and is due for review in March 2025.