Business Rates

Katy Stone made this Freedom of Information request to Birmingham City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Birmingham City Council,

Please can you provide me with the following information under the
Freedom Of Information Act 2000:-

The most up to date list you can obtain (Ideally from April 2016) (please provide the date of the data) with;
(a) List all Commercial properties with their Rateable Values and addresses.
(b) The names and addresses of the Rate payers referred to above
for each property and their correspondence address (if different
from the property address)
(c) The full billing authority reference for each property (this is the property reference not the account number)
(d) The current liability payable for the year 2016/17 & for last years 2015/16
(e) The date the rateable occupier first became liable for the
business rates
(f) If the property is empty that date it became empty
(g) Please also state which hereditament is currently receiving
I. Charitable rate relief (mandatory rate relief)
II. Discretionary rate relief
III. Empty property rate relief
IV. Listed building exemption
V. Retail Relief
VI Small Business Rate Relief
VII. Any other relief
(h) List of all credits on account and the amounts

In accordance with the ICO Torbay decision, I would appreciate it of this Council did not withhold the names of sole traders and partners. In the circumstances of the Torbay case the individuals were private landlords or sole traders and the Commissioner concluded that disclosure of their names would not breach the first data protection principle as the information relates to the business activities of the individuals concerned and not activities they undertake simply or solely in their private lives. The Commissioner concluded that disclosure would be fair and meet schedule 2 condition 6 of the Data Protection Act.

Yours faithfully,

Katy Stone

Benefit Service Policy, Birmingham City Council

1 Attachment

 

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Request for Information Reference FOI
14834

 

Thank you for your request for information held by the Council under the
provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This has been referred
to an appropriate officer within the Revenues and Benefits Service in
order to provide you with the requested data.

 

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you, and you will be
required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

 

If you require any further information or are not happy with our response
please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0121 464 2152
quoting the reference number above in any future communications.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Strategy Development Team

 

 

 

Data Protection Act 1998

The information you have provided within your Freedom of Information
request will be held on our database and may also be held within manual
records for a period of 2 years from the date Birmingham City Council
received your request. Any personal data that you provide to Birmingham
City Council will be held in line with the requirements set out within the
Data Protection Act 1998.

 

Re Use of Public Sector Information

Where Birmingham City Council is the copyright holder of any information
that may be released, re-use for personal, educational or non-commercial
purposes is permitted without further reference to the City Council. Where
the re-use is for other purposes, such as commercial re-use, the applicant
should notify the City Council in writing to seek approval or agree terms
for re-use.

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Benefit Service Policy, Birmingham City Council

3 Attachments

 

Dear Katy Stone

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Request for Information  FOI 14834

 

I am responding to your request for information held by the Council under
the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The original request:

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|Please can you provide me with the following information under the |
|Freedom Of Information Act 2000:- |
| |
|  |
| |
|The most up to date list you can obtain (Ideally from April 2016) |
|(please provide the date of the data) with; |
| |
|(a) List all Commercial properties with their Rateable Values and |
|addresses. |
| |
|(b) The names and addresses of the Rate payers referred to above for |
|each property and their correspondence address (if different from the |
|property address) |
| |
|(c) The full billing authority reference for each property (this is the |
|property reference not the account number) |
| |
|(d) The current liability payable for the year  2016/17 & for last years|
|2015/16 |
| |
|(e) The date the rateable occupier first became liable for the business |
|rates |
| |
|(f) If the property is empty that date it became empty |
| |
|(g) Please also state which hereditament is currently receiving I. |
|Charitable rate relief (mandatory rate relief) II. Discretionary rate |
|relief III. Empty property rate relief IV. Listed building exemption V. |
|Retail Relief VI Small Business Rate Relief VII. Any other relief |
| |
|(h) List of all credits on account and the amounts |
| |
|  |
| |
|In accordance with the ICO Torbay decision, I would appreciate it of |
|this Council did not withhold the names of sole traders and partners. In|
|the circumstances of the Torbay case the individuals were private |
|landlords or sole traders and the Commissioner concluded that disclosure|
|of their names would not breach the first data protection principle as |
|the information relates to the business activities of the individuals |
|concerned and not activities they undertake simply or solely in their |
|private lives. The Commissioner concluded that disclosure would be fair |
|and meet schedule 2 condition 6 of the Data Protection Act. |
| |
|  |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

 

This has been referred to an appropriate officer, who has provided the
following data in order to answer your enquiry.

 

 The response:

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|Please see attached spreadsheets. |
| |
|  |
| |
|Our records do not identify between sole traders and individuals, |
|therefore we cannot provide these details. |
| |
|  |
| |
|EMPTY PROPERTIES |
| |
|  |
| |
|Birmingham City Council is unable to provide lists of vacant or empty |
|properties, as it considers that the details of and addresses of empty |
|or vacant properties are exempt under s31 of the Freedom of Information |
|Act 2000. |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|s31 prevention / detection of crime |
| |
|  |
| |
|Section 31 states: |
| |
|(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of 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 |
| |
|  |
| |
|Section 31 is a qualified exemption, ie even where the exemption |
|applies, the public interest in disclosure of the requested information |
|must be considered. |
| |
|  |
| |
|Birmingham City Council considers that there is a strong public interest|
|in being open and transparent in relation to its functions. However, it |
|considers that any benefit arising from disclosure is far outweighed by |
|the real and substantial risk of harm, arising from criminal activities,|
|which would be likely to follow the disclosure of information relating |
|to vacant properties to the world at large. |
| |
|  |
| |
|These will include thefts from the vacant buildings (such as internal |
|fixtures, lead from the roof of the building, and so on), criminal |
|damage - and of course squatting, which is now a criminal offence. |
| |
|  |
| |
|Birmingham City Council is aware of the decision of the Lower Chamber of|
|the Information Tribunal in 2011, in the case of Voyias v Camden Borough|
|Council [2011], that information relating to the location of vacant |
|properties should be made public. However, this was overturned by the |
|Higher Chamber of the Information Tribunal in July 2012, which ordered |
|that this matter be returned to the Lower Chamber for a re-hearing. |
| |
|  |
| |
|The judgment of the Higher Tribunal stated: “in deciding that the |
|requested information was lawfully withheld, the Lower Tribunal was |
|plainly mindful of the guidance given by the Upper Tribunal that, when |
|determining whether the public interest balance weighed in favour of |
|maintaining the s31(1)(a) exemption, regard should be had not merely to |
|the direct adverse consequences of the disclosure, but also to |
|any indirect consequences which arose as ‘realistic possibilities’. |
|Ultimately, the lower tribunal concluded that ‘the small weight that the|
|public interest in disclosure bears does not come close to equalling the|
|public interest in preventing the categories of crime we have identified|
|in this decision”. |
| |
|  |
| |
|Upon re-hearing in January 2013, it was held that the Local Authority |
|was entitled to refuse to provide the information under s31 of the |
|Freedom of Information Act as the public interest in withholding the |
|information, ie the public interest in preventing crime, outweighed the |
|public interest in disclosure. |
| |
|  |
| |
|The Tribunal confirmed that the disclosure of information would be |
|likely to give rise to criminal activity, not only in terms of theft |
|from the vacant properties and the activities of individuals who may |
|decide to squat in vacant properties, but also the potential further |
|criminal activity that is sometimes associated with squatting, such as |
|drug use. It must be noted that squatting is now a criminal offence in |
|itself, and in any event normally involves criminal damage, both in |
|terms of gaining access to the property, and then changing the locks to |
|secure the property and to prevent the lawful property owner from |
|gaining access to their property. |
| |
|  |
| |
|Public interest test |
| |
|  |
| |
|Whilst the City Council accepts that the purpose of a request may be for|
|research purposes or similar general use, a release under FOI puts the |
|information into the public domain for anyone to use – it is not |
|restricted to the requester. |
| |
|  |
| |
|Birmingham City Council considers that the exemption at section 31 |
|applies to all of the requested information about empty properties in |
|light of the Information Tribunal decision in Voyias v Camden Borough |
|Council. |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|In addition, the Information Commissioner’s Office, in a recent Decision|
|Notice (ref: FS5058467 - Hardie), dealt specifically with the issue of |
|the risk of crime that arises when details of empty properties are |
|disclosed. Paragraph 30 of the Decision Notice refers to the risk of |
|identity fraud, for example through intercepting post, or through the |
|use of an address to apply for services such as bank loans and credit |
|cards. At paragraph 49 of the Decision Notice the words of Upper |
|Tribunal Judge Edwards are quoted, as follows: |
| |
|  |
| |
|“Preventing crime prevents the criminal acts themselves and the |
|consequences that accompany or follow them. These factors have to be |
|taken into account as part of the assessment of the public interest. The|
|consequences of a crime may be financial or social. They may be direct |
|or indirect. Just to take criminal damage, there are the costs of |
|security measures, the cost of repairs, increased insurance premiums for|
|the area and an impact on local property values. There is no |
|justification for taking account of only some of these financial |
|consequences. There is no difference in principle between the costs that|
|are carried by private individuals, by the public purse, or spread |
|through insurance premiums. Nor is there a difference in principle |
|between the cost of repairing the damage and the cost of evicting |
|someone who caused the damage in order to gain entry and possession. And|
|there is no justification for severing financial costs from social costs|
|……….. criminal damage and its consequences can reduce the quality of |
|life in a neighbourhood. There is a |
| |
|psychological element involved, which may not be rational. People may |
|feel more vulnerable or threatened than they really are. But the impact |
|is none the less real for that”. |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|Birmingham City Council considers that the same rationale should apply |
|to both residential and commercial properties. |
| |
|  |
| |
|The City Council considers that there is a strong public interest in |
|openness and transparency, and is keen to see empty properties brought |
|back into occupation, but in the interests of preventing crime, the City|
|Council will only publish/ disclose details of vacant properties where |
|it has the consent of the property owners, or (in respect of Council |
|properties) where the property has been declared surplus to |
|requirements. |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
| |
|  |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an internal
review. Please contact the corporate team at the address below:

 

Performance & Information (WS)

PO Box 16366

Birmingham

B2 2YY

or

[1][email address]

 

If subsequently you are not satisfied with the Council’s decision you may
apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO
cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure
provided by the Council.

 

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at the following address:

 

The Information Commissioner

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Telephone: 01625 545745

Web Address: [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Strategy Development Team

[3]Tel:0121 464 2152

 

 

Please respond to Benefit Service Policy , NOT to individuals

 

 

 

Data Protection Act 1998

The information you have provided within your Freedom of Information
request will be held on our database and may also be held within manual
records for a period of 2 years from the date Birmingham City Council
received your request. Any personal data that you provide to Birmingham
City Council will be held in line with the requirements set out within the
Data Protection Act 1998.

 

Re Use of Public Sector Information

Where Birmingham City Council is the copyright holder of any information
that may be released, re-use for personal, educational or non-commercial
purposes is permitted without further reference to the City Council. Where
the re-use is for other purposes, such as commercial re-use, the applicant
should notify the City Council in writing to seek approval or agree terms
for re-use.

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

 

 

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Dear Benefit Service Policy,

Thank you for your reply, can you please advise where the list of credits on accounts can be found?

Thanks
Yours sincerely,

Katy Stone

Benefit Service Policy, Birmingham City Council

1 Attachment

Our apologies, they were missed off the original email.

Benefit Service Policy Team
Corporate Resources Directorate, Customer Services
Birmingham City Council

Please respond to [email address] , NOT to individuals

The advice and comments given in this email are based solely upon the information you have provided and may not apply in different circumstances. The Policy Team can only give general advice and guidance on the interpretation of Regulations, law and procedures. Benefit processing staff are decision makers and are therefore required to make their own decisions regarding individual cases as part of their day to day duties.

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