We are frequently asked for information about Business Rates accounts under the Freedom of Information Act.
Following a change to our computer system we are no longer able to provide some information previously released under Freedom of Information Requests. This is because in most cases reports do not show the names and addresses of individual ratepayers.
Under FOI Act section 12 (cost limit) we are not obliged to comply with a request for information if we estimate that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit. This limit is set at £450 and may include working hours of any person acting on our behalf at a rate of £25 per hour.
Unfortunately retrieving certain information from the system would require us to manually search our records and would exceed the limit allowed for an individual FOI request. We are therefore unable to provide the following categories of information:
Please note that we consider sole trader information to be protected by the Data Protection Act 1998 and therefore we will not disclose the business rates account information for a sole trader.
With regards to requests for the rateable value and address of all Business Rates accounts, the Council considers that FOI Act section 21 (information reasonably accessible to the applicant by another means) applies. Our reason for applying this exemption is that details of the addresses and rateable value of all Business Rates accounts are available on the Valuation Office Agency website.
Under FOI Section 41 (information provided in confidence) we are not able to supply requesters with all other Business Rates account information. We consider that we could be subject to an actionable breach of confidence if we were to disclose this data to a third party without the authorisation of the companies involved.
Companies provide information to the Business Rates team in circumstances which give rise to an obligation of confidence and companies expect this data to remain confidential. Disclosure would therefore be contrary to the common law principle of confidentiality. Consent has not been obtained from individual Business Rate payers and we feel that it would be impractical to do so.
Updated: 4 August 2017