FOI Disclosure Log

Customer Request Details

04 November 2021

All Council Tax accounts with a credit balance. 

I am aware that all Billing Authorities hold on accounts 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 the authorities billing area, including the following information:

A. The name of each business in respect of which Council Tax credit balances remain payable. I understand you will not provide individuals names. Please note I am not asking for Business Rates but that of council tax accounts held by housing associations, property developers etc

B. The value of overpayment in each case which remains unclaimed

C. The years(s) in which overpayment is for

D. The property address the credit relates to

E. A write to address and write to company name if available

F. Please state whether the account is a live/open account or a closed account; if closed the date it closed

G. Please provide the most up to date and accurate information that you can, please confirm the date that the data was pulled from your system



East Herts Council Response

04 November 2021

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 Council tax accounts that currently have credit balances for business 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

This we feel is also applicable to council tax credits held by companies

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
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545 700

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.