The Information Commisioner's Office has published a number of relevant decisions concerning the publication of business rates credit balances, including:
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council - FS50671834 (25 January 2018)
- Wandsworth Council - FS50619844 (6 Feb 2017)
- London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham - FS50643256 (4 October 2017)
- Westminster City Council - FS50611895 (19 December 2016)
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - FS50611353 (19 December 2016)
In each case, councils had withheld disclosure of the information under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act - the prevention or detection of crime.
The councils stated the disclosure of the information allowed potential fraudsters to identify business entities which were entitled to claim credits on accounts. Once such a business had been identified, a number of avenues were opened to seek to obtain funds fraudulently.
In each case, the Commissioner accepted the prejudice claimed by the councils correctly related to the prevention of crime.
Following the Commissioner's decisions in these cases, and having considered the same issues would or would likely occur, we no longer publish or release information about parties liable for business rates or the amounts payable.
We withhold this information under Section 31(1)(a) Freedom of Information Act 2000, which states: "Information which is not exempt under Section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice (a) the prevention or detection of crime."