FOI Disclosure Log
09 January 2019
Dear East Hertfordshire District Council, I am seeking to receive certain detailed reports under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c.36). Could you please reply to me with the following report attached:
- Unclaimed business rate credit balances.
I am aware that 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.
I therefore request a breakdown of credit balances accrued since your earliest records, for the amounts owing to all incorporated companies within your authority"s billing area, including the following information: (the report you currently have on your website is showing no ratepayers in credit).
A. The legal name of each business in respect of which non-domestic rate credit balances remain payable B. The value of overpayment in each case which remains unclaimed C. The years(s) in which overpayment was made D. The hereditament address E. The legal name of each business in respect of which non-domestic rate credit balances have been written back on to the NDR account F. The value of write back in each case which remains unclaimed G. The years(s) in which the write back was made (if available) H. The hereditament address that the write back relates to.
09 January 2019
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.