Birmingham City Council FOIA

Discussion in 'Scientology Property Tax' started by Anonymous, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. Anonymous Member

    Case Ref: FS50344666
    Date: 24/05/2011
    Public Authority: Birmingham City Council
    Summary: The complainant asked the Council to release the details of any discretionary or mandatory rate relief granted to the Scientology Religious Education College (COSREC) in the last 5 years. Specifically, he requested to know why such relief had been granted and to be provided with a copy of COSREC’s application for such relief and any information it submitted to the Council in support of this application. The Council informed the complainant that COSREC has been in receipt of discretionary rate relief since at least 1999 and explained why COSREC met the assessment criteria. It confirmed that COSREC’s award was reviewed in 2005 and COSREC submitted a revised application and supporting evidence at this time. However, the Council informed the complainant that it could not provide a copy of this information, as it had either been lost or destroyed. As the complainant remained dissatisfied, he approached the Commissioner. The Commissioner has undertaken a detailed investigation and he has concluded that on the balance of probabilities the requested information has either been lost or destroyed by the Council in error. As there are no steps the Commissioner can order by way of a Decision Notice to remedy this situation he requires no further action to be taken.
    Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI 1 - Complaint Partly Upheld

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  2. Anonymous Member

  3. Anonymous Member

    Thanks for the update. This stinks and seems to contain new information and be contrary to the information previously provided by BCC under the FoIA, namely that the application was originally submitted in 1999 and that no supporting dox exist for it. Source: ( Decision Letter.doc.html).
  4. subgenius Member

    wait, what?
  5. Anonymous Member

    I don't see any evidence to suggest that the Council advised, in any of these requests, that an application was submitted in 2005. Am I wrong?
  6. Anonymous Member

    eh? contrary to what?

    their position AIUI is that

    - the application was made in 1999, and they've lost the application dox.

    - it was renewed in 2005.

    - it's currently being renewed (or at least it's being discussed whether or not it will be renewed).

    which I think has been their position all along. And the ICO has now confirmed that BCC really do seem to have looked properly for the documents.

    If someone could send details of this ruling to a local journo for Brummage then that would be most useful.

    The Council losing the documents can be the story in itself - the Information Commissioner has rapped them on the knuckles for that.

    "the requested information has either been lost or destroyed by the Council in error."

    it was a renewal of the old one. so not technically a new application.

    love and kisses, WT.
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  7. Anonymous Member

    oh no sorry, the 2005 one is the one they lost.
  8. Anonymous Member

    I was specifically referring to this, in the ICO decision notice:

    And this (page 2):
    Maybe I'm being dense, but as far as I can tell the information in bold above (re: 2005) does NOT actually appear anywhere in the Council's responses to you last year, only in the ICO document.
  9. Anonymous Member

  10. subgenius Member

    losing dox
    so unusual in a Co$ related endeavour (sarcasm)
    but at least mis/mal-feasance on the part of the dox-keeper
    (hello, whoever the fuck you are, your job is to NOT lose dox)
    what the fuck
    inquiries go down the shit hole
    how is that consistent with the right to petition the sovereign to redress grievances
    oh, sure you can ask, but we will just lose it anyway, so don't bother
  11. Anonymous Member

    oh, could be.

    thanks guv.
  12. Anonymous Member

    the scientology cult is always infiltrating places and getting rid of information
    google: operation snow white for best example of this

    John Duignan - ex scientologist and author of book 'the complex' was a scientologist cult operative in birmingham during 2005. He may have more information of cult members in the council promoting scientology's propagation and recruitment agenda
  13. Anonymous Member

    Or, far more likely, it's just a common-or-garden variety cockup at the Council.

  14. Anonymous Member

    Agreed, although it does the Council dept no favours that they've done all they could to avoid admitting to it.

    Anyway, from a previous post:

    BCC did actually decide on this on April 6th, and the cult's application was refused. Details are here:

    However, what we don't know is whether or not they subsequently appealed and, if so, what the outcome was. It's past the deadline to appeal so I think it'd be sensible to request confirmation of their status - and since the CoS escaped scrutiny for the last one maybe see if BCC will give up the application this time.
  15. Anonymous Member

    Did BCC refuse discretionary relief (20%) and mandatory relief (80%), or did they just refuse discretionary relief?

    I'm confused.

  16. Anonymous Member

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  17. Anonymous Member

    Discretionary, there's no mention of mandatory relief in the meeting documents. But I assume the application would've been for the standard 80% discretionary relief* they were receiving previously, not the 20% discretionary top-up plus mandatory relief that was given in Sunderland for example... if that makes sense. Obviously the response to the new request should answer this anyway.

    (*Not that it - hopefully - matters anymore but BCC has also reduced the general discretionary award to 75% as of this year.)
  18. Anonymous Member

    Hmm. I'm not sure that's right. Although hopefully the new query will clear up matters. But FWIW my understanding is:

    Mandatory relief (aka Charitable relief) is for 80% of ratable value, and funded by national government. Is the legal entitlement of all charities as well as some organisations which while not charities are 'for charitable purposes' (which is where COSREC make their claim).

    (e.g. see p10 of this document )

    Discretionary relief is for the remaining 20% of ratable value, and is at the discretion of the local council (and from their budget).

    Birmingham is (or was) the only local authority in the country to award discretionary relief to COSREC.

    So I'm wondering if they've now dropped the discretionary part - the smaller part - but kept the mandatory part.

    That's interesting. Is there info about this online somewhere? Presumably the "75%" is 75% of the 20% ratable value discretionary relief, i.e. 75% * 20% = 15% of ratable value.

    (which is all about as clear as mud. links to clarifying online docs much appreciated.)
  19. Anonymous Member

  20. Anonymous Member

    Although relief policy.pdf

    "It is possible for a voluntary organisation to apply for 100% discretionary rate relief, and for registered charities to apply for an additional 20% discretionary relief in addition to the mandatory relief they already receive. In these circumstances additional criteria will also be applied as described below."

    which also says

    The Council is committed to reducing fraud in all its forms. An organisation which tries to fraudulently apply for Discretionary Rate Relief by falsely declaring their circumstances or providing a false statement or evidence in support of their application, may have committed an offence under the Theft Act 1968. Where we suspect that such a fraud may have occurred, the matter will be investigated in line with the Council’s Anti-Fraud Strategy. This may lead to criminal proceedings being instigated."
  21. Anonymous Member

    With regard to the last few posts, it's a lot simpler than it seems. This is the crux of it:
    In previous years BCC has granted 80% discretionary rate relief as standard (of the possible 100%), e.g.
    This year, the rate of discretionary relief is set at 75%. For this you need to see the discretionary rate relief decision document from the April 6th meeting. Due to the uniquely shit construction of the BCC website I can't link to it directly, but instructions were given in the other WWP thread. The document and appendices are also available here:
  22. Anonymous Member

    Is 'the possible 100%' 100% of rateable value, or 100% of the 20% of rateable value that's left once you've deducted 80% mandatory relief?

    so confused.
  23. Anonymous Member

    100% of rateable value*. In Birmingham they weren't getting mandatory relief and it doesn't apply. There are two models really:

    1) mandatory relief (80%), can be topped up with discretionary relief to bring it to 100%: intended for charities
    2) discretionary relief on its own, which can in theory be any amount up to 100% at the discretion of the local authority: intended for certain types of non-profits which are not registered charities

    *BUT, wIthout wanting to derail or complicate things further, this still doesn't reflect what the ratepayer actually pays as the rateable value is adjusted by a set multiplier, effectively reduced by around 60% - for examples of this see Sponge's posts in this thread:
  24. Anonymous Member

    oooooooo kay.

    so Birmingham is unique in that they were allowing COSREC discretionary but not mandatory relief, while the other councils who were allowing them relief (e.g. city of london) were giving them mandatory but not discretionary relief....

    is that right?
  25. Anonymous Member

    Yes I think so, based on the info so far released under the FoIA. Although, being pedantic, in Sunderland at least they benefited from both (100% relief made up of 80% mandatory + 20% discretionary on top).

    It's worth noting though that Birmingham's not the only authority to which they've applied for it. In Camden, after failing to get mandatory relief in 2007 they applied for discretionary relief the following year, and were refused:

    (Coincidentally, this was another case of the application being unavailable, here due to a corrupted folder. Details are in the thread above.)
  26. Anonymous Member

    R I C.

    So in Birmingham (and to an extent Sunderland) the money's coming from local taxpayers whereas in the other cases it's coming from national funds...
  27. Anonymous Member

  28. Anonymous Member

  29. RolandRB Member

  30. Anonymous Member

    Any Brumanons contacting local Brum press with this? National press may also run it.

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