Dear Lincoln City Council,
we seek to receive certain detailed reports under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c.36). Could you please reply to me with the following report attached:
- Unclaimed business rate credit balances.
We are cognizant of the fact that Billing Authorities hold on account sums of money that are due to be returned to ratepayers and for a variety of reasons have not been repaid.
I therefore request a breakdown of credit balances accrued since your earliest records, for the amounts owing to all incorporated companies within your authority's billing area, including the following information:
A. The legal name of each business in respect of which non-domestic rate credit balances remain payable
B. The value of overpayment in each case which remains unclaimed
C. The years(s) in which overpayment was made
D. The hereditament address
E. The legal name of each business in respect of which non-domestic rate credit balances have been written back on to the NDR account
F. The value of write back in each case which remains unclaimed
G. The years(s) in which the write back was made (if available)
H. The hereditament address that the write back relates to
We look forward to working with you in sourcing the information we require
If you have any questions or comments pertaining to our request, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Yours faithfully,

c smith

Shearwood, Karan (City of Lincoln Council), Lincoln City Council

3 Attachments

Dear Sirs

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST

 

I refer to your request for information received on 2018 concerning the
above and enclose the Council’s refusal under Section 31 of the above Act.

 

If you wish to appeal against the handling of your request then please
contact the Freedom of Information Officer at the City of Lincoln Council,
City Hall, Beaumont Fee, Lincoln, LN1 1DB. Telephone 01522 873441 or
e-mail [1][Lincoln City Council request email].

 

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700 [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

With regards.

 

 

Karan Shearwood
Legal Officer
T 01522 873840
[3]City of Lincoln Council

City of Lincoln Council
City Hall, Beaumont Fee, Lincoln, LN1 1DD
[4]http://www.lincoln.gov.uk/doitonline

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Wage campaign, please visit [7]www.lincolnagainstpoverty.co.uk/livingwage

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Dear Lincoln City Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Lincoln City Council's handling of my FOI request 'nndr Credits'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

Yours faithfully,

c smith

Shearwood, Karan (City of Lincoln Council), Lincoln City Council

Dear Sir

Please note that this matter has been passed to our Data Protection Officer to review and she will respond to you as soon as possible.

With regards.

Karan Shearwood
Legal Officer
T 01522 873840

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Legal (City of Lincoln Council), Lincoln City Council

Dear Sir

This is in response to a request for an internal review of the decision of City of Lincoln Council not to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act).

The original request sort information relating to non-domestic rate credits. This information was not disclosed on the basis that it was exempt under s 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act, as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

I can confirm that City of Lincoln Council maintains it’s position that the information is exempt as stated above. In reaching this decision I have reviewed the original response provided. This has included my consideration of the 3 part test required for this exemption to be engaged and the balance of the public interest test, given this exemption is qualified and therefore requires such as assessment.
I have also considered decisions on this matter by the Information Commissioner including decision notice reference FS50619844, involving Wadsworth Council on 6 February 2017 https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak... and decision notice reference FS50671834 involving London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council on 25 January 2018 https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak..., both of which concluded that the same information was exempt under s 31.

Firstly in regard to the 3 part test for this exemption to be engaged

1) Whether the prejudice is relevant to s31
I consider that if the information were disclosed it would be likely to prejudice the prevention and detection of crime, as it would make it significantly easier for fraud to be committed. There would be various options available for fraudsters to pose as businesses with credits on their accounts to claim these fraudulently, including forging and creating documentation to support this. This is particularly in light of the Council’s current simple variations procedures.

2) The nature of the prejudice
I consider the prejudice is not trivial or insignificant. It is real, actual or of substance with there being a causal link between the disclosure of the credits relating to each business and fraudsters being motivated to pose as such businesses to claim the credits.

3) The likelihood of such prejudice
As stated by the Information Commissioner in the Wadsworth Council decision above
“in the case of John Connor Press Associates Limited v The Information Commissioner (EA/2005/0005) the First-Tier Tribunal confirmed that, when determining whether prejudice would be likely, the test to apply is that “the chance of prejudice being suffered should be more than a hypothetical possibility; there must have been a real and significant risk.”. In other words, the risk of prejudice need not be more likely than not, but must be substantially more than remote”.

In this matter I do consider the risk to be real and significant. The Council already receives electronic correspondence from fraudsters purporting to be from the Inland Revenue or the Post Office, in an attempt to trick staff into disclosing information and providing monies. If this information were too be disclosed the fraudsters would hold the added advantage of being able to target identity fraud with details of the businesses and amount of credits.

In relation to the assessment of the balance of the public interest test as required for this exemption, I consider that the public interest in not disclosing this information outweighs the public interest in disclosing this. I accept the arguments in relation to this put forward by the Council in its original response, which I do not intend to replicate. I also note that such arguments have been addressed and accepted by the Information Commissioner in the above decisions.

If you have any follow up questions of me, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

If you are dissatisfied with my response to your request for an internal review, you are entitled to contact the Information Commissioner's Office, and you can contact them via their website at www.ico.gov.uk or alternatively, write to them:-

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
SK9 5AF

Sent on behalf of the Data Protection Officer
[email address]
T 01522 873765

City of Lincoln Council
City Hall, Beaumont Fee, Lincoln, LN1 1DD
http://www.lincoln.gov.uk/doitonline
Read more about our vision

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