Freedom of information response

CV Small Business Grants Fund

Publication date: 
Friday 26 June 2020
Request: 

1. Please confirm how much funding has been received by the local council from central government to support Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) scheme in England during corona virus?

2. How many hereditaments has the local authority identified may be in scope to receive the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) scheme? Please provide the relevant BA reference numbers?

3. How many Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) scheme payments have been made to hereditaments to date (please confirm the date of extract)?

4. Please confirm the total amount of money that the local authority in England has distributed for Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) scheme to date (please confirm the date of extract)?

5. A list of NNDR Business Rates accounts who were in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief or whom subsequently became entitled to such relief as of 11 March 2020 for all incorporated companies within the authorities billing area, including the following information:

i. The name of each incorporated company in respect of which account is held. 

ii. The properties address in which the account relates to.

iii. A write to address and write to company name, if applicable.

Response: 

1. £14,550,000

2. 1455. We will not be releasing BA reference numbers information as the information could be used to promote fraud.  Please see below exemption applied.

3. 1140 as at 22 June 2020

4. £11,400,000 as at 22 June 2020

5. We will not be releasing this information as the information could be used to promote fraud.  Please see below exemption applied

i). The name of each incorporated company in respect of which account is held. 

ii). The properties address in which the account relates to.

iii). A write to address and write to company name, if applicable.

In issuing our response to 2 and 5 the Council has applied S31 (1)(a) Law Enforcement Exemption of the Freedom of Information Act.

Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to prejudice various law enforcement purposes including preventing crime, administering justice, and collecting tax.  We believe that releasing the names of the companies/individuals that have a credit on their account as well as the amount in credit would invite fraudulent or criminal activity. We actively seek to refund credits and we feel that there is no wider public interest in the credit balances other than for those who are a due a credit. We have a process in place to notify companies that are due a credit and every effort is made to refund the credit to its rightful owner.  

The reasons for the application of this exemption have been captured below under the public interest test section.

Public Interest Test:

  • Public interest in disclosure:
    • It would inform the public how much each business received in funds from Thurrock Council.
  • Public interest to maintain the exemption:
  • Releasing the requested information could invite fraudulent or criminal activity. 
  • Claims that are made fraudulently would require resources, time and money to investigate and prosecute, taking funds away from other service areas.

Based on the above, it is the council’s view that there is a stronger public interest to maintain the use of the exemption for section 31. The key reasons for this is as follows:

The council feels the factors in favour of withholding the information outweigh those in favour of publication. A realistic outcome/consequence of releasing this information would be that the Council would be subject to fraudulent grant claims.

You are free to use any information supplied to you for your own use, including non-commercial research purposes.  However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of the copyright owner.

Where the copyright is owned by Thurrock Council, you must apply to the Council to re-use the information.  Please email information.matters@thurrock.gov.uk if you wish to re-use the information you have been supplied. For information where the copyright is owned by another person or organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their permission.

Request reference:
FOI 10034