The Local Authority Information Gateway was introduced in England in February 2017, and in Wales in June 2017.
At the Valuation Office Agency, it lets us, in certain circumstances, share information about business rates with local authorities. The gateway’s aim is to improve the efficiency of business rates billing and collection, by reducing the need for ratepayers to provide the same information to both the VOA and their local authority. So far, 186 local authorities – more than half of those across England and Wales – have signed up, and many have already submitted requests for information to help with billing queries and to improve their collection rates.
Signing up to the gateway is straightforward. To keep information safe and secure, local authorities complete an information sharing protocol and an information sharing agreement before we can release any information. These set out how that information can be used.
The data we share with local authorities must only be used for a qualifying purpose, which broadly includes:
- billing and collection
- duty to inform valuation officer that a list requires alteration
- business rates retention.
- Using these restrictions means we can reassure taxpayers that their data is totally safe.
It’s a very easy system for local authorities to use. Once an authority has signed up, they can submit their request for information via our online service. All requests are directed to our specially trained team, who provide a consistent approach to handling requests and releasing data, as well as excellent service with a quick turnaround. Our target is to respond to requests within 20 working days, and we have successfully met that target every month since the service was launched.
Once a local authority has successfully signed up to the gateway, we can securely release the following information to them:
- Owner and occupier details
- Reason for a split or merger of a building, and who requested it
- Date of occupation
- Home addresses of holiday let owners
- Car parking details
- Parts of a property rated/included in assessment
- Property usage
We release data to a secure email address at a local authority, or in some circumstances, we can release it through the billing authority file transfer website.
You can find more information about the gateway, including how to sign up, at www.voa.gov.uk/info4LAs. If you have any questions about the Gateway, please contact our team at email@example.com who are happy to help.
Helen Evans, product owner – Local Authority Information Gateway, Valuation Office Agency