Expanded Retail Discount October 2020

The request was refused by Gwynedd Council.

Dear Gwynedd Council,

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000.

In accordance with the provisions specified within the above Act I hereby request the following information.
Required Information; - A list of all hereditaments where you have granted EXPANDED RETAIL DISCOUNT for the 2020/21 rate year.
This request relates to business rates but please only refer us to data available for download on your website if it contains the requested EXPANDED RETAIL DISCOUNT data.
• Property Reference Number (also known as Billing Authority Reference Number) of the property on which the charge is made. This is not the Rate Demand or Account Number.
• Current Rateable Value
• Account holder name
• Property address
• The billing address (where different to the property address)

Please provide the information in an electronic, spreadsheet format ideally excel. The Act requires that a response be provided within a period of 20 working days from the date hereof.

This request for information falls within the parameters of the Act but if you require clarification on any of the points above or should you wish to discuss this further then please do not hesitate to contact me. The requested information passes all required public interest tests and other requirements and is not exempt from disclosure.

Yours faithfully,

Richard roberts

Gwynedd Council

Rhyddid Gwybodaeth / Freedom of Information

Dear Richard roberts,

Freedom of Information (ref 349)

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 349.

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 05/11/2020. If you require further information please
contact me by phone on 01286 679468 or by emailing
[1][email address].cymru by quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,
Gwawr Owen

References

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1. mailto:[email address].cymru

Rhyddid Gwybodaeth, Gwynedd Council

Rhyddid Gwybodaeth / Freedom of Information

Dear Richard roberts,

Freedom of Information (ref 349)

Thank you for your recent request.

 

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.

 

Please note that where information is subject to copyright belonging to
the Council, you will need to obtain the permission of the Council to
re-use it for purposes other than private study or non-commercial
research. The Council may charge for re-use. Where third party copyright
material is disclosed, you must obtain permission to re-use from the
copyright holders concerned.

 

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,
Gwawr Owen

References

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