Dear Durham County Council,
On 14 August 2017 you responded to an FOI request from T Harper, reference FOI20175858TH, for details of student council tax exemptions for the years 2010 to 2016. Would you please now provide this information, in the same format, for 2017?
Would you please also clarify whether the monetary value quoted in this and the earlier request is the total amount that would have been paid had the exemption not applied (i.e. inclusive of the precepts from the Police, Fire Service, Parish Councils etc) or only the amount that would have been the County Council's share?
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
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Dear Roger Cornwall,
Please find attached our response to your request for information. If you
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Dear Freedom of Information,
Sorry to come back to you on what I had thought was a successfully completed FoI request, but on examination the figures given are implausible. Specifically, a monetary value of £4,089,004.64 divided by a number of properties of 3,459 gives an average figure per property of £1,182.13.
Given that the annual precept for a Band A property in Durham City last year was £1,141.22 and that in adjacent parishes it was £1,159.16 (Belmont) and £1,158.37 (Framwellgate Moor), and some parishes are much higher - Great Aycliffe was £1,287.88, this suggests to me that the figure provided is not accurate. In the City the typical student rent in the Viaduct area would be Band C and many are higher, up to Band F.
Would you please query the figures provided and tell me the basis of this calculation?
Our new reference number: IR20186762RC
Dear Mr Cornwell,
Following your email below, we will now carry out an Internal Review for the above request. To allow us to track your internal review more easily and provide a timely response, we have logged it under a new reference number, as above. A response from the review will be provided within 20 working days or no later than 40 working days in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The case officer dealing with your request is:
Christine Paciorek Tel. 03000 268036
Information Management Team
Durham County Council
Dear Mr. Cornwell,
I refer to your e.mail of 17 April 2018 querying the response you received to an earlier Freedom of Information request under reference FOI20186362RC concerning the number of domestic properties benefitting from student ‘exemptions’ from Council Tax. That response was that 3459 student-occupied properties (Class N) were exempt in 2017 at a total monetary value of £4,089,004.64. Additionally there were further exemptions for ‘purpose-built’ student accommodation (Class M). In the light of your correspondence of 17 April I have been asked to review the matter.
As requested I have queried the figures and am informed that the low average value will result from the fact that not all of the Class N properties will have benefitted from an exemption for the whole of the financial year. The exemption arises only when a property is wholly occupied by students. If it is occupied by others, or stands unoccupied, then a charge will apply. (Alternatively in the case of new-builds or conversions, any charge, or exemption, would obviously not arise until the property is built or converted.)
In relation to your original request, the relevant report was filtered to select ‘live’ accounts as at 31 December 2017. The report has now been re-run to cover the whole of the financial year, and this shows that over the course of the year there were 3959 class N exemptions with a value of £4,626,182.74. Again this does give a relatively low average value (£1,168 as against the previous £1,182) but again it is explained by the fact that not all of the properties will have benefitted from the relevant exemption for the whole of the year.