FOI Disclosure Log
30 October 2018
~~Dear Business Rates Team,
I would like to obtain recent information, from the Council, relating to unclaimed business rate credit balances. Please also indicate when requested information (spreadsheet or website) has been updated.
I am aware that all Billing Authorities hold on account sums of money that are due to be returned to ratepayers and for a variety of reasons have not been repaid and maybe considered untraceable by the Council.
I therefore request a breakdown of credit balances accrued since your earliest records, for the amounts owing to all incorporated companies within the authorities billing area including the following information:
A) The name of each business in respect of which non-domestic rate credit balances remain payable.
B) The value of over payment in each case which remains unclaimed.
C) The years(s) in which over payment was made and the hereditament address.
D) The name of each business in respect of which non-domestic rate credit balances has been written back on to the NDR account.
E) The value of write back in each case which remains unclaimed.
F) The years(s) in which write back was made (if available) and the hereditament address that the write back relates to.
09 November 2018
Further to your request for Information. It is not possible to provide the Information you requested as it is covered by a Qualified Exemption and the Council considers that it is not in the Public Interest to release the Information.
The Council no longer publishes information about Business Rates accounts that currently have credit balances in response to Freedom Of Information requests.
Information in respect of credit balances is considered exempt under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (prevention or detection of crime)
The Council holds this information but believes that its disclosure could result in fraudulent refund claims being made to the Council for these credit balances.
This follows a decision of the Information Commission dated 6 February 2017 in respect of a request made of Wandsworth Council in respect of a request for NNDR credit balances. The decision can be read on the ICO website.
Engaging section 31 requires a public interest test to be considered: there is a public interest in ensuring the transparency and efficiency of Council business, but there is wider public interest.
In favour of withholding the information as it is in the public interest to prevent fraudulent refund claims being made against the Council, and the cost that such fraud places on the public purse.
On this basis, the Council feels that the public interest in disclosing the information requested is outweighed by the public interest in preventing the risk of fraudulent claims being made.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Section 17 this document acts as a Refusal Notice and the Information requested cannot be released.
If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request please do not hesitate to contact me.
Further Information and Guidance is available from the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioners Office
Telephone 01625 545 700
It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.
Thank you for your request.