FOI request (FOIR-124187245)
Overpaid Council Tax
Requested Wed 12 June 2019
Responded Fri 28 June 2019
In terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, and subject to section 40(2) on personal data, could you please provide me with a complete and up-to-date list of all names for residential households that have overpaid their council tax to you the local authority, and include the following fields:
I only want individuals who have overpaid by £2000 or more
Please also provide us with the amount of credit you hold for the household.
- Full name of the residential person that has overpaid council tax- Full Address - Occupied / Vacant -Start Date of council tax
Please provide these data as machine-readable as either a CSV or Microsoft Excel file,
Please see attached spreadsheet - please note that information in relation to whether the property is occupied or vacant has been refused - see below:
Notice of Refusal
Please note that I consider the information you have requested in relation to advising you whether a property is vacant or occupied to be exempt information under S31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act in that disclosure of that information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
The exemption afforded by S31(1)(a) is subject to what is known as the 'public interest test'. When applying the test in a particular case a public authority is deciding whether the public interest is better served by non-disclosure than by disclosure.
Although the Freedom of Information Act does not define 'in the public interest', there is a presumption under Freedom of Information that openness is in the public interest. In applying the public interest test a public authority will take into account the distinction that has been often made by courts between things that are in the public interest, and things that merely interest the public. Where applicants have not identified public interest considerations succinctly or accurately, the public authority has a responsibility under the Act to make their own assessment of the public interest considerations in the particular case.
We have identified the following public interest factors that may be seen as encouraging the disclosure of information:
a) furtherance of understanding and participation in the public debate of issues of the day.
b) bringing to light information affecting public health and safety.
c) bringing empty properties back into use.
We consider these factors to be generally of limited or no relevance in relation to the information in question.
Public interest factors seen as encouraging non-disclosure are, generally, the exemptions themselves. In consideration of this matter we came to the following conclusions:
a) that there is no evidence of a wider public (rather than individual) interest in disclosure.
b) that the disclosure of the information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
c) that the nature of such prejudice is real and substantial and that there is a real and significant risk of such prejudice.
d) that crime associated with empty properties, whether owned by individuals or by organisations, has a substantial detrimental effect upon other individuals in the neighbourhood and wider community.
e) that the motives behind the request (albeit not provided to us) have no relevance since disclosure would mean the information would be in the public domain.
In weighing the factors for and against disclosure we have concluded that the likely benefit to the applicant and the wider public of disclosure is outweighed by the likely prejudice caused by such disclosure and that therefore the public interest is better served by non-disclosure.
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