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

Gwyn Worth made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Chorley Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Chorley Borough 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 Corley Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Contact, Chorley Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

 

We will deal with your enquiry as quickly as possible. You may find the
information you need on our website.

 

Kind Regards

 

Chorley Council

 

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foi, Chorley Borough Council

Dear Gwyn 

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REGARDING
ALLOCATION OF NON-SPECIFIC PAYMENTS

 

OUR REFERENCE: FOI/17/554

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
Please quote the above reference number in all future correspondence. 

I can confirm that we have received your request for information, and that
it is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act
2000, which requires us to respond to your enquiry within 20 working days
of its receipt.  You should therefore expect to receive a response by 21
November 2017.

Please note that the information provided by Chorley Borough Council is
intended for your personal use.  If it is your intention to re-use the
information for commercial gain, you will need to apply to the Council for
a licence to re-use it, under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information
Regulations 2005.

Information on the regulations can be obtained from the Office of Public
Sector Information and accessed directly on their website:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Ally Lloyd
Software Support Engineer
Chorley Council

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them to anyone. Please advise the sender and permanently delete the e-mail
and attachments. Please note that while Chorley Council has policies in
place requiring its staff to use e-mail in an appropriate manner, any
views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender may not
necessarily reflect the views of Chorley Council. Chorley Council may
monitor e-mails sent or received.

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foi, Chorley Borough Council

Dear Gwyn

I am writing in response to your request for information under the terms
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Ref No FOI/17/554.

Please find below, the details of your request and our response in blue.

 

 

Requested:

 

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

 

Oldest year

 

 

I hope the information provided here answers your enquiry.  If however,
you are unhappy with the outcome, or the way in which Chorley Council has
handled your request, you may wish to make an appeal.  This can be done in
writing to the Information Manager, Chorley Council, Civic Offices, Union
Street, Chorley, PR7 1AL, or by e-mail to: [1][email address]  clearly
stating your reasons for dissatisfaction.  Please quote the above
reference number in all correspondence.

 

If your appeal is either not upheld or you remain dissatisfied with our
decision, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner at:  Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF, or by e-mail to [2][email address].

Please note that the information provided by Chorley Borough Council is
intended for your personal use. If it is your intention to re-use the
information for commercial gain, you will need to apply to the Council for
a licence to re-use it, under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information
Regulations 2005.

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Ally Lloyd
Software Support Engineer
Chorley Council

( 01257 515151 | 8 [3]chorley.gov.uk
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Click [4]here for further details.

You can make service requests online at [5]chorley.gov.uk, and it’s even
faster if you use '[6]My Account'

 

This e-mail and any attached files are confidential and may also be
legally privileged. They are intended solely for the intended addressee.
If they have come to you in error you must not use, copy or communicate
them to anyone. Please advise the sender and permanently delete the e-mail
and attachments. Please note that while Chorley Council has policies in
place requiring its staff to use e-mail in an appropriate manner, any
views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender may not
necessarily reflect the views of Chorley Council. Chorley Council may
monitor e-mails sent or received.

References

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Dear foi,

Thank you for stating that non-specific payments are allocated to the oldest liability.

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

foi, Chorley Borough Council

Dear Gwyn

Thank you for your email.

An unmatched payment automatically allocates to the oldest debt because this is how our system parameters are set up.

However, we would always make bespoke arrangements if a customer contacted us to try to accommodate their requests to avoid any in year recovery consequences.

Kind regards

Ally Lloyd
Software Support Engineer
Chorley Council

C 01257 515151 | chorley.gov.uk
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dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear foi,

Thank you for clarifying my query. I consider Chorley Borough Council has provided the information I requested, however, 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 implying that there are no measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor (other than relying on customer contact) that the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are not being complied with. If the laws of appropriation were being complied with, 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

foi, Chorley Borough Council

Dear Gwyn

Thank you for your email.

Please accept my apologies for the delay responding to you.

For clarification, where there is multiple years' liability and a council tax payment received does not match an exact amount due, the payment is automatically allocated to the oldest debt. However, these payments are individually checked and if required reallocated to avoid the potential of unnecessary recovery action and costs for the council tax payer.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards

Ally Lloyd
Software Support Engineer
Chorley Council

C 01257 515151 | chorley.gov.uk
Visiting Chorley town centre? Try our new free park and ride service. Click here for further details.

You can make service requests online at chorley.gov.uk, and it’s even faster if you use 'My Account'

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear foi,

Thank you for clarifying your response. It is evident that the overall approach complies with appropriation principles, i.e. the circumstances are evaluated and payment allocated in the best interests of the customer.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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