What is it?

The records retention guidance is information that guides English councils on the types of records that could be kept for each service to ensure compliance with Section 12 of the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the management of records and to meet likely business needs.

The guidance is put together by Kent County Council's Legal Services team in partnership with esd-toolkit. It describes how long records need to be kept before destruction or transfer to the Archives.

How might the guidance be used and why?

Councils need a records retention schedule to:

  • manage compliance with legislative retention requirements and the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice
  • manage proper disposal in line with Data Protection rules
  • improve efficiency by allowing easier access to relevant documents by removing old and out of date ones
  • reduce storage and backup costs, bringing major savings in the cost of physical space
  • improve the accessibility of information requested under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations
  • in line with the principles of open government, identify which information is held

The guidance published here represents an interpretation of retention requirements which you can use to check and improve your own retention schedule. Ultimately each council's legal department must check and approve its own schedule. It is not designed to be downloaded in full as representing the complete retention schedule for an individual council.

LG Inform Plus subscribers can generate full or partial retention documents for editing or copying into their own personalised schedules.

How is the Guidance structured?

There is no 'Classification scheme' issued with the Guidance. Guidance is provided for every service in the Local Government Service List of customer-facing services delivered by English and Welsh councils. There is also guidance for some internal services.

The guidance page lets you search, browse and download guidance for your chosen services. If you wish, you can structure the download and output to rich text documents to match the two level local government Function List or Website Navigation List.

For open data specialists, the guidance can be accessed as Linked Data from the data page.

Retention information is provided for guidance only. You must check requirements with your council’s own legal team.