We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Richard Scott please sign in and let everyone know.

Dear Carmarthenshire 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 January 2018) (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 2017/18
(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.

Thank you in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Scott

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Scott,

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 29th January, 2018 and has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The specific information you requested was contained in your email below.

In response, please find attached the relevant information held by the Council.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth a Chwynion
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Information Governance & Complaints Team Chief Executive's Department Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

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FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Scott,

Thank you for your telephone call in relation to this request and I apologise for the omission of information in the response provided.

Please therefore consider this email to be a revised response to your request, which has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The information you requested was as follows:

"(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 2017/18
(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 response please find attached files which contain the relevant information held by the Council.

With regard to the liability for 2017/18, this can be calculated by multiplying the sum of 0.499 against each of the rateable values.

However, please note that we have withheld some information, for reasons I will set out below.

1. Empty Properties owned by individuals

Information on empty properties owned by individuals is considered exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act on the same basis as that set out in the Information Tribunal’s decision in England v Bexley & the ICO. In this case, Section 31 (1) (a) was found to apply to such information. A copy of this decision is attached.

2. Hardship relief cases

Releasing information about any businesses/individuals in receipt of hardship relief would in my view be likely to prejudice their commercial interests. This term can be defined as the ability of any party to successfully engage in a commercial activity, such as selling goods or services.

I am of the view that these liable parties would suffer some reputational damage, and a loss of confidence in them arising from concern over their financial situation and future viability were the information disclosed. This would be likely to deter (at least some) customers from procuring goods/services from them, or otherwise trading with these enterprises.

Under Section 43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act, a public authority may refuse to disclose information if it would, or would likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including the public authority holding it.

In view of the considerations set out above, it is my view that the exemption under Section 43 (2) is engaged and that the information should be withheld from disclosure.

This is a qualified exemption, subject to a public interest test.

I accept that there is always likely to be a public interest in information on matters relating to public finances (such as the collection of tax and other duties) and that this does require openness and transparency.

Nevertheless, in this case, there is a stronger, countervailing public interest in ensuring that these individuals/companies can continue trading (and employing staff) without unwarranted prejudice to their business. This is particularly the case given the current economic climate.

3. Billing addresses

a) Individuals’ home addresses

A large number of Business Rates accounts provide a private individual’s home address as a mailing address. This would constitute personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998.

Under Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a public authority may refuse to release personal data if its disclosure would breach any of the data protection principles.

The first data protection principle states:

“1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless—
(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and
b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 is also met.”

The term processing includes disclosure to third parties, which must therefore be fair, lawful and meet one of the relevant conditions set out in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Disclosing these addresses goes beyond providing information relating to the person’s business, such as his/her name and the premises from which they trade from.

Releasing these private addresses into the public domain would lead to an intrusion of privacy and would be contrary to the reasonable expectation of the subjects.

There is no overriding public interest which requires disclosure in my view.

b) Company/organisation billing addresses

To avoid what is in our view the unnecessary work of extracting individuals’ home addresses from the records, billing addresses for companies and other organisations have not been included.

It is my view that where the property address is not sufficient as a means of contacting the company/organisation, then alternative contact details can be found through sources such as Companies House, company websites and business directories. As such, this information is readily accessible to the public in each case via alternative means.

Under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a public authority is not obliged to provide information where it is already reasonably accessible to the applicant, which in this case is via the sources set out above.

4. Women’s refuges

I am withholding the addresses of the women’s refuges within the County.

Section 38 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides an exemption from disclosure where this would, or would be likely to endanger the physical or mental health or safety of any individual.

This exemption is subject to a public interest test.

There is a real risk that vulnerable women seeking refuge from violent or otherwise abusive individuals could be harmed if this information was published, as it would disclose the actual addresses where these women are accommodated in times of crisis.

It is therefore considered that Section 38 is engaged.

It my view that there are no public interest factors in favour of disclosure in this case – it can never be in the public interest to endanger the safety of any individual.

5. Credits held on accounts

The Council does hold this information relevant to your request. However, after giving this matter careful consideration, I am of the view that the information held should not be disclosed for the same reasons set out in the attached decision notice published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (Kensington and Chelsea).

We are therefore relying on Section 31 (1) (a) as a basis for withholding the information, as the disclosure of the information would be likely to lead to fraud, since when a refund of a credit is requested, the Council would ask the customer to provide information about the business which can be matched to the rate account – this would be the same information we are being asked to disclose in this case.

As I am refusing to provide some of the requested information on the basis explained above, please consider this email to be a formal notice of refusal as required by Section 17 of the Act.

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been dealt with, you have the right to complain in the first instance to:

The Head of Administration & Law
Carmarthenshire County Council
County Hall
Carmarthen
Carmarthenshire
SA31 1JP

Email: [email address]

If you remain unhappy with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.org.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran Adfywio a Pholisi
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Regeneration & Leisure Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

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