Freedom of information response

Small Business Grant Fund

Publication date: 
Monday 17 August 2020
Request: 

What I’m interested in is for companies whose ‘nature of business’ (SIC) as listed on Companies House falls under:

  • 01700 (Hunting, trapping and related service activities)
  • 82990 (Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified)
  • 93199 (Other sports activities)

Could you provide a list of:

  1. Those that received money from the Small Business Grant Fund between 1 April 2020 and 1 July 2020.
  2. How much these companies received.
  3. The date the grant money was paid to the company.
Response: 

We will not be releasing this information as the grant application is currently live.  Please see below exemption applied

In issuing our response the Council has applied S31 (1)(a) Law Enforcement Exemption and S40 (2) Exemption of the Freedom of Information Act .

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 are unable to provide the level of detail requested at the current time as we believe that releasing the names of the companies/individuals that have received funds could potentially invite fraudulent or criminal activity.

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.

S40 (2) Data Protection

Personal data of any person (third party data) is exempt under section 40(2) if disclosure would breach one of the data protection principles.  This aspect of Section 40 is an Absolute Exemption and is therefore not subject to the Public Interest Test.  It is therefore subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act (1998).  The information published could contain details of sole traders. There is no prior expectation on the part of individuals that the premises that they own would be published into the wider public domain under FOI.  A disclosure made under FOI constitutes a publication to the world at large.  We believe that to disclose this would be likely to breach the first Principle of the Data Protection Act by unfairly contravening their right to privacy and confidentiality.

However you can obtain high level totals of grants issued by each authority at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-grant-funding-local-authority-payments-to-small-and-medium-businesses.

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 10119