Ensuring customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Hull City Council,

A council taxpayer who owes more than just the current year's liability runs the risk of incurring additional recovery costs through a further application for a liability order if payments which are intended for the current year's liability are allocated by the council's computer to the previous year's liability. This would most likely happen where a non specific payment is made and the computer software is set to automatically allocate these payments to the oldest year's debt.

Councils computer systems have the necessary flexibility to be set to allow non specific payments to be allocated to the arrears or the current year's liability.

I understand that the majority of billing authorities have their computer software set to ensure that their customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship, i.e. so non specific payments are allocated to the current year's liability.

How does Hull City Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Information Governance, Hull City Council

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Information Governance Team
Town Clerk's Service
Hull City Council
The Guildhall

 

Information Governance, Hull City Council

Dear Ms Worth,

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Information Request - 001670/17

 

We acknowledge receipt of your information request received on 06/10/2017
which is being processed according to the Freedom of Information Act
(2000)

The legislation allows us 20 working days to respond which takes us to
03/11/2017.  There are some circumstances under which this deadline may be
extended legally but we will inform you as soon as we know if these apply.

 

Questions

 

A council taxpayer who owes more than just the current year's liability
runs the risk of incurring additional recovery costs through a further
application for a liability order if payments which are intended for the
current year's liability are allocated by the council's computer to the
previous year's liability. This would most likely happen where a non
specific payment is made and the computer software is set to automatically
allocate these payments to the oldest year's debt.

Councils computer systems have the necessary flexibility to be set to
allow non specific payments to be allocated to the arrears or the current
year's liability.

I understand that the majority of billing authorities have their computer
software set to ensure that their customers are not subject to unnecessary
recovery action, additional costs or hardship, i.e. so non specific
payments are allocated to the current year's liability.

How does Hull City Council have its computer software set to deal with non
specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

 

 

Should you wish to complain about our response in any way this must
initially be done by e-mailing [1][Hull City Council request email] or by
contacting us at The Information Governance Team, The Guildhall, Alfred
Gelder Street, Hull, HU1 2AA.

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review then you
may take your complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the
government body established to enforce the legislation.

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House Water Lane,

Wilmslow,

Cheshire,

SK9 5AF

 

Web site: [2]https://ico.org.uk

Report a concern: [3]https://ico.org.uk/concerns/

Email: [4][email address]

Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 (national rate)

 

ICO states that any emails you choose to send to them, or that they send
to you, are not secure as email messages can be intercepted.

ICO asks that you include a contact telephone number on any emails you
send to them. 

 

The Council’s Freedom of Information Policy, which includes the charging
policy, is available on request and from the web site
[5]www.hullcc.gov.uk.  Also available is a booklet on ‘Accessing
Information from Hull City Council’ which explains how to request
information and your rights (according to the Data Protection Act 1998 and
The Freedom of Information Act 2000).

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Information Governance Team

Town Clerk's Service

Hull City Council

Tel: 01482 300300

[email address]

 

<img style="width:300px;height:56px" width="100" height="100"
src="http://static.hullcc.gov.uk/images/HULL_...
border=0/>

Barkworth Jane, Hull City Council

 

 

Dear Ms Worth

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Information Request - 001670/17

 

With regard to your Freedom of Information request received on 06/10/2017,
please find our response below. 

 

Question:

A council taxpayer who owes more than just the current year's liability
runs the risk of incurring additional recovery costs through a further
application for a liability order if payments which are intended for the
current year's liability are allocated by the council's computer to the
previous year's liability. This would most likely happen where a non
specific payment is made and the computer software is set to automatically
allocate these payments to the oldest year's debt.

 

Councils computer systems have the necessary flexibility to be set to
allow non specific payments to be allocated to the arrears or the current
year's liability.

 

I understand that the majority of billing authorities have their computer
software set to ensure that their customers are not subject to unnecessary
recovery action, additional costs or hardship, i.e. so non specific
payments are allocated to the current year's liability.

 

How does Hull City Council have its computer software set to deal with non
specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

 

 

Answer:

The Council Tax system for Hull City Council is set to allocate any
payments that do not match the current year instalments or an agreed
payment arrangement (including multiple instalments) to the oldest
outstanding balance. If a Council Tax payer stipulates that a payment
should be allocated to a specific debt this will be done.

 

 

 

We hope that you will be satisfied with our response and should you
require any further information then please do not hesitate to contact
us. 

 

 

Should you wish to complain about our response in any way this must
initially be done by e-mailing [1][Hull City Council request email] or by
contacting us at The Information Governance Team, The Guildhall, Alfred
Gelder Street, Hull, HU1 2AA.

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review then you
may take your complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the
government body established to enforce the legislation.

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House Water Lane,

Wilmslow,

Cheshire,

SK9 5AF

 

Web site: [2]https://ico.org.uk

Report a concern: [3]https://ico.org.uk/concerns/

Email: [4][email address]

Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 (national rate)

 

ICO states that any emails you choose to send to them, or that they send
to you, are not secure as email messages can be intercepted.

ICO asks that you include a contact telephone number on any emails you
send to them. 

 

The Council’s Freedom of Information Policy, which includes the charging
policy, is available on request and from the web site
[5]www.hullcc.gov.uk.  Also available is a booklet on ‘Accessing
Information from Hull City Council’ which explains how to request
information and your rights (according to the Data Protection Act 1998 and
The Freedom of Information Act 2000).

 

 

This information may be subject to copyright. The Freedom of Information
Act does not give you an automatic right to re-use this information in a
way that would infringe copyright, for example, by publishing it or
distributing copies.  You are free to use it for your own purposes
including any non-commercial research or private study or for the purposes
of news reporting.

If you wish to re-use this information and this was not specified in your
initial application please contact us to discuss conditions for re-use. In
most cases we will permit use and re-use in accordance with The Open
Government Licence which can be found at
[6]www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Jane Barkworth

Information Governance Officer

Town Clerk's Service

Hull City Council

Tel: 01482 300300

 

 

<img style="width:300px;height:56px" width="100" height="100"
src="http://static.hullcc.gov.uk/images/HULL_...
border=0/>

Dear Ms Barkworth,

Thank you for stating that the Council Tax system is set to allocate unmatched payments to the oldest outstanding balance and that 'if a Council Tax payer stipulates that a payment should be allocated to a specific debt this will be done'.

Would you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place to check that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt in these circumstances would have the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears, and if so, in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953] 1 Q.B. 533, whether the payment would be moved in respect of the current year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Barkworth Jane, Hull City Council

 

Dear Ms Worth

 

Information Request - 001772/17

 

With regard to your request received on 24/10/2017, please find our
response below. 

 

 

Thank you for stating that the Council Tax system is set to allocate
unmatched payments to the oldest outstanding balance and that 'if a
Council Tax payer stipulates that a payment should be allocated to a
specific debt this will be done'.

 

Would you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place to check
that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt in these
circumstances would have the consequences of putting the current year's
liability also in arrears, and if so, in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower
Justices [1953] 1 Q.B. 533, whether the payment would be moved in respect
of the current year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action,
additional costs etc.?

 

Where there are multiple years of Council Tax outstanding, measures are
taken to transfer instalment payments when it appears they were intended
for the current year.

 

Checks are carried to re-allocate payments from debts at different
recovery stages (i.e. enforcement agent, attachment of earnings/benefit).

 

Council Tax accounts are also checked prior to the issue of a Council Tax
summons. Payments are re-allocated where it is likely they were intended
for the current year and a summons is not issued where appropriate.

 

It is not a case that it is always in the Council Tax payers’ interest for
unmatched payments to be allocated to the current financial year.
Unmatched payments may also be allocated to debts at other recovery stages
where further progression and additional costs can be avoided i.e.
referral to an enforcement agent or commencement of committal to prison
proceedings.

 

Whilst these measures are in place it is not possible to confirm that all
unmatched payments are checked.

 

 

We hope that you will be satisfied with our response and should you
require any further information then please do not hesitate to contact
us. 

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Information Governance Officer

Town Clerk's Service

Hull City Council

Tel: 01482 300300

 

<img style="width:300px;height:56px" width="100" height="100"
src="http://static.hullcc.gov.uk/images/HULL_...
border=0/>

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Ms Barkworth,

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider Hull City Council has provided the information I requested. The purpose of this exercise was to ascertain whether or not the principles surrounding the appropriation of payments were being adhered to.

R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953)

It was held in R v Miskin Lower Justices, that where an amount obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere.

If no instruction is given at the time of payment, then the council has a duty to allocate payment to the account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. That would be in the majority of cases the current liability if the consequences of allocating payment to the arrears meant that the customer was subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.

I understand by the council's response that there are comprehensive measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor, and consequently the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are being complied with. This effectively means that an unmatched payment allocated to the oldest debt (having the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears) would be reallocated to the current year's liability on account of the circumstances implying that this was the debtor's intention (least burdensome for the debtor).

If it appears I have misunderstood anything from what I have stated above I would appreciate if you would correct me.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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