Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data (Q3 2023)

Gavin Chait made this Freedom of Information request to Gwynedd Council as part of a batch sent to 102 authorities Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was refused by Gwynedd Council.

Dear Gwynedd Council,

In terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, and subject to section 40(2) on personal data, could you please provide me with your local authority’s complete and most-recently updated list of all business (non-residential) property rates data, including the following fields:

- Billing Authority Property Reference Code (linking the property to the public VOA database reference)
- Firm's Trading Name (i.e. property occupant or ratepayer)
- Full Property Address (Number, Street, Postal Code, Town)
- Occupation / Vacancy status
- Date of Occupation / Vacancy
- Reliefs and / or exemption categories (classifications) granted or applied
- Date that reliefs and / or exemption categories granted or applied
- Value of reliefs and / or exemption categories granted or applied (in Pounds)
- Actual annual rates charged (in Pounds)

If you are unable to provide an absolute “Occupation / Vacancy” status, please provide the balance of the information requested..

Please could you also provide a list of definitions for the codes for the Exemptions and / or Reliefs you use.

Please provide these data as machine-readable as either a CSV or Microsoft Excel file, capable of re-use, and under terms of the Open Government Licence (reuse for any and all purposes, including commercial).

I last requested these data three months ago, and this is a request for your latest updated dataset.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin Chait

Rhyddid Gwybodaeth, Gwynedd Council

Diolch yn fawr am eich cais diweddar o dan y Ddeddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth
2000.

Mae eich cais wedi ei drosglwyddo i mi  er mwyn ei brosesu a chadarnhaf ei
fod wedi ei gofnodi o dan y rhif cyfeirnod 557
Gall y Cyngor gymryd i fyny at 20 diwrnod gwaith, o’r dyddiad derbyn, i
ymateb i’ch cais. Dylech felly dderbyn y wybodaeth yr ydych wedi ei
cheisio, yn amodol ar unrhyw eithriad a ganiateir o dan y Ddeddf, erbyn
16/11/2023

Os oes arnoch angen unrhyw wybodaeth bellach, a fyddech cystal â chysylltu
â mi drwy e-bostio [Gwynedd Council request email] gan ddyfynnu’r
cyfeirnod a nodir uchod.

Yn gywir, y Tîm Rhyddid Gwybodaeth

---

Thank you for your recent request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000.

Your request has been passed to me to process and I can confirm that it
has been logged under the reference number 557

The Council may take up to 20 working days, from the date of receipt, to
respond to your request. You should therefore receive the information you
have requested, subject to the application of any exemptions permitted
under the Act, by 16/11/2023

If you require further information please contact me by emailing
[email address].cymru by quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely, the Freedom Of Information Team

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Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiad iddo yn gyfrinachol ac fe'i bwriedir ar
gyfer y sawl a enwir arno yn unig. Gall gynnwys gwybodaeth freintiedig. Os
yw wedi eich cyrraedd trwy gamgymeriad ni ellwch ei gopio, ei ddosbarthu
na'i ddangos i unrhyw un arall a dylech gysylltu â'r anfonwr ar unwaith.
Mae unrhyw gynnwys nad yw'n ymwneud â busnes swyddogol y corff sy'n anfon
yr e-bost yn bersonol i'r awdur.

Gall cynnwys yr e-bost hwn gael ei ddatgelu yn unol â gofynion
deddfwriaeth mewn perthynas â prosesu a rheoli data, sydd yn cynnwys y
GDPR, Deddf Diogelu Data 2018 a Deddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth 2000.

show quoted sections

Arbedwch bapur, ynni ac arian - Peidiwch argraffu'r neges yma oni bai ei
bod yn hollol angenrheidiol.
Save paper, energy and money - Do not print this message unless it is
absolutely necessary.

Rhyddid Gwybodaeth, Gwynedd Council

Dear Gavin Chait,

 

Freedom of Information (Ref 557)

 

Thank you for your recent request. Please see below for the information
requested:

 

Your request has been considered and it has been decided that the
information you require is exempt under Sections 31 and 43 of the Freedom
of Information Act. It is important to emphasise that any response given
under the Freedom of Information Act is to be taken as a response into the
public domain and not merely to the applicant.

 

EXEMPTION

Section 43 Commercial interests

 

Your request is initially considered exempt from disclosure under Section
43 because financial details held on Business Rates accounts are
considered commercially sensitive and would not be disclosed to a third
party without an “Authority to Act” letter from the company or
organisation concerned.

 

In addition to such a letter of authorisation, it is expected that the
applicant would be in a position to provide details of the account that
they are seeking to enquire about in the form of an account number or copy
of a Business Rates document. This is no different to the way the Council
would usually handle its day to day business. Where the letter of
authorisation has not given specific authority for details of the company
or organisation’s financial transactions with the Council, (including
credits, debits, reliefs and exemption), to be provided, it is not
considered to be in the public interest to disclose such information to
third parties.

 

Public Interest Arguments for Disclosure

•To encourage transparency in the Council’s decision making processes

•It allows transparency of decisions on how public funds are spent

 

Public Interest Arguments for Withholding information

•It is not in the public interest to potentially damage the commercial
interests of an organisation seeking to do business with the Council

•The Council’s position in future procurement negotiations may be
jeopardised if this information is released

•It would have a detrimental impact on companies / contractors  ability
seeking to do business with the council" should their liability, credits,
debits, reliefs or exemptions (i.e. financial transactions) are released
in the public domain

 

The Council is of the view that releasing information without the
appropriate “Authority to Act” letter could potentially be harmful to the
commercial interests of the businesses concerned and so it has been deemed
that the public interest in the non-disclosure of this information
outweighs the public interest in its release. This is a qualified
exemption.

 

EXEMPTION

Section 31: Prejudicial to law enforcement

 

The Council also holds the view that matters concerning Business Rates
accounts are between the account holder and the Council.  Disclosure of
account information into the public domain is prohibited by Section
31(1)(a) and (d) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosure
could prejudice the prevention and detection of crime and the assessment
or collection of any tax or duty or any imposition of a similar nature.

Whilst your own reasons for requesting the information are not in
question, the Council cannot be involved, however unwittingly, in any
practice that could potentially result in the possibility of fraudulent
claims being made for Business Rate reliefs, refunds or grants and it
asserts that the provision of the information you have requested could
make it much easier for the accurate issuance of reliefs, refunds or
grants to become targeted for that purpose.

The Council will further refer to Information Commissioner’s Office
decision FS50671834, Mr David Hunter v London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in
which the Commissioner advises that the application of section 31(1)(a)
was correctly applied when a request for such information on non domestic
rates accounts was declined.

 

Public Interest Arguments for Disclosure

•To release the information would assist the general public interest in
openness.

•Releasing the information would help the public understand, the
Authority’s management of business rates credits

 

Public Interest Arguments against withholding information

•There is a strong public interest in avoiding the likely prejudice to the
prevention of crime.

•The public interest in avoiding damage to the reputation of property
owners when seeking future credit;

•The council needs to effectively carry out its functions with businesses,
and to rely on the utmost integrity and security.

•The risk of increased crime would likely occur if information relating to
empty properties is released to the wider public.

•Releasing information would likely increase the risk of illegal entry and
of illegal use if/when entered

 

The application of this exemption is also subject to a public interest
test. The public interest is best served by not encouraging potential acts
of fraud and crime. This is a qualified exemption.

 

 

The disclosed information may contain copyright material, and
notwithstanding Gwynedd Council’s disclosure the document may still be
copyright protected. It is important for you to respect any copyright
status that may attach to a particular document.  Fair dealing provisions
allow information to be used in certain ways without infringing copyright.
This allows the contents to be debated publicly. Fair dealing allows
disclosure to serve the public interest of increasing accountability and
transparency. Of particular importance is the provision which allows the
criticism, review or news reporting of copyright information. 

 

A detailed account of the provisions may be found in the Guidance Note
20201023 “Intellectual property rights and disclosures under the FOIA” on
the Information Commissioner’s website

 

Complaints

 

If you are unhappy with the way the Council has handled your request, you
may ask for an internal review. Please contact me if you require an
internal review of your case. An internal review will be conducted by the
Monitoring Officer or Head of Service and we will aim to respond within 20
working days. However, if we are unable to complete the review by this
date, we will advise you accordingly.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. Please see below for the contact details:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

2^nd Floor

Churchill House

Churchill Way

Cardiff

CF102HH

 

Telephone: 02920 678400

Email: [1][email address]

Fax: 02920 678399

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Lisa Marie Williams

Cefnogaeth Gorfforaethol/Corporate Support

-------------------------------------------------------------
Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiad iddo yn gyfrinachol ac fe'i bwriedir ar
gyfer y sawl a enwir arno yn unig. Gall gynnwys gwybodaeth freintiedig. Os
yw wedi eich cyrraedd trwy gamgymeriad ni ellwch ei gopio, ei ddosbarthu
na'i ddangos i unrhyw un arall a dylech gysylltu â'r anfonwr ar unwaith.
Mae unrhyw gynnwys nad yw'n ymwneud â busnes swyddogol y corff sy'n anfon
yr e-bost yn bersonol i'r awdur.

Gall cynnwys yr e-bost hwn gael ei ddatgelu yn unol â gofynion
deddfwriaeth mewn perthynas â prosesu a rheoli data, sydd yn cynnwys y
GDPR, Deddf Diogelu Data 2018 a Deddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth 2000.

show quoted sections

Arbedwch bapur, ynni ac arian - Peidiwch argraffu'r neges yma oni bai ei
bod yn hollol angenrheidiol.
Save paper, energy and money - Do not print this message unless it is
absolutely necessary.

References

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