Requests for business rates data including business rates credit balances
There have been a number of relevant decision notices issued by the Information Commissioners Office surrounding the publication of business rates credit balances, five of which are listed below.
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council - 25 January 2018 – FS50671834
- Wandsworth Council – 6 Feb 2017 – FS50619844
- London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham – 4 October 2017 – FS50643256
- Westminster City Council - 19 December 2016 - FS50611895
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - 19 December 2016 - FS50611353
In these the Councils argue that disclosure of the information withheld under section 31(1)(a) would be likely to prejudice the prevention of crime. It was explained that releasing the requested information would allow potential fraudsters to use the information to identify business entities which were entitled to claim credits on their accounts. Once such a business had been identified, there would be a number of avenues open to seek to obtain funds fraudulently. Based on these arguments, the Commissioner accepts that the prejudice claimed by the Councils correctly relate to the prevention of crime.
In line with these decisions, the Council no longer publishes or releases information about the parties that are liable for Business Rates or the amounts payable. The information is being withheld under Section 31(1)(a) Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA), which states that:
“Information which is not exempt under Section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice (a) the prevention or detection of crime “
Further information about the valuation of properties and details of how to appeal can be found on the Valuation Office Agency Websites www.voa.gov.uk