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

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Katharine Collinge, Ribble Valley Borough Council

3 Atodiad

Dear Ms. Worth

 

Please kindly refer to the attached correspondence.

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Katharine Collinge

Legal Assistant and Freedom of Information Officer

Work Pattern:  Monday all day/ Tuesday all day / Wednesday am
Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe,
Lancashire BB7 2RA
T: 01200 414536 | E: [1][email address] | W:
[2]www.ribblevalley.gov.uk

[3]ribble valley logo

[4]RVBC Twitter logo

 

 

Tops for resident satisfaction – 94% of residents are satisfied with
Ribble Valley as a place to live (Perception Survey 2016)

Happiest residents in the UK – Ribble Valley has a ‘happiness rating’ of
8.2 compared to a UK average of 7.5 (Halifax Rural Quality of Life Survey
2016)
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References

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2. http://www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/
http://www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/
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Katharine Collinge, Ribble Valley Borough Council

3 Atodiad

Dear Ms. Worth

 

Please find enclosed full response to your recent correspondence.

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Katharine Collinge

Legal Assistant and Freedom of Information Officer

Work Pattern:  Monday all day/ Tuesday all day / Wednesday am
Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe,
Lancashire BB7 2RA
T: 01200 414536 | E: [1][email address] | W:
[2]www.ribblevalley.gov.uk

[3]ribble valley logo

[4]RVBC Twitter logo

 

 

 

Tops for resident satisfaction – 94% of residents are satisfied with
Ribble Valley as a place to live (Perception Survey 2016)

Happiest residents in the UK – Ribble Valley has a ‘happiness rating’ of
8.2 compared to a UK average of 7.5 (Halifax Rural Quality of Life Survey
2016)
This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may
contain sensitive, protectively marked or restricted material, and should
be handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised
to receive it for the addressee) you may not copy, use, or disclose it to
anyone else. If you have received this transmission in error, notify the
sender immediately. All GCSX traffic may be subject to recording and/or
monitoring in accordance with relevant legislation. This e-mail is issued
subject to Ribble Valley Borough Council’s e-mail [5]disclaimer which you
are taken to have read and accepted. 
Although the Council virus scans incoming and outgoing emails (including
file attachments) it cannot guarantee that the content of an email
communication or any file attachment is virus free or has not been
intercepted or amended as it passes over the internet. The onus is on the
recipient to check the communication is virus-free. The Council accepts no
responsibility for any damage caused by receiving emails from our email
systems and/or hosted domains.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/
http://www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/
4. https://twitter.com/RibbleValleyBC
5. https://www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/info/200...

Dear Katharine Collinge,

Thank you for your response.

Can you please confirm regarding the following that "implied" = "a matching payment amount" ?

"Council Tax payments are allocated to current liability where the intention of the Council Tax payer is known or is implied.

Where that is not the case, any payments will be allocated to the oldest debt. "

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Katharine Collinge, Ribble Valley Borough Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms. Worth

Please kindly refer to the attached correspondence.

Yours faithfully

Katharine Collinge
Legal Assistant and Freedom of Information Officer
Work Pattern:  Monday all day/ Tuesday all day / Wednesday am
Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 2RA
T: 01200 414536 | E: [email address] | W: www.ribblevalley.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Katharine Collinge, Ribble Valley Borough Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms. Worth

Please find enclosed full response to your recent correspondence.

Yours faithfully

Katharine Collinge
Legal Assistant and Freedom of Information Officer
Work Pattern:  Monday all day/ Tuesday all day / Wednesday am
Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 2RA
T: 01200 414536 | E: [email address] | W: www.ribblevalley.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Katharine Collinge,

Thank you for your response. I consider Ribble Valley 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 indicating 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

Katharine Collinge, Ribble Valley Borough Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms. Worth

Please find enclosed full response to your recent correspondence.

Yours faithfully

Katharine Collinge
Legal Assistant and Freedom of Information Officer
Work Pattern:  Monday all day/ Tuesday all day / Wednesday am
Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 2RA
T: 01200 414536 | E: [email address] | W: www.ribblevalley.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Gwyn Worth anodiad ()

Above response (attachment)

'With regard to your enquiry, we would respond as follows:

It appears that you may not have read in full part of our response to your original Freedom of Information request.

As indicated previously you have made the incorrect assumption that in the majority of cases it would be better to allocate unspecified payments to the current year’s debt.

Where a Council Tax payer has debts outstanding for more than one year it is likely that they will incur substantially more costs if those payments are not allocated to the oldest debt first i.e. enforcement agents fees, costs associated with bankruptcy and charging orders and ultimately they may be committed to prison.

However, we also made clear that we take a flexible approach to this issue and where a dispute arises about the allocation of an unspecified payment we would always take each case on its own merits considering the interests of the Council Tax payer.'

Dear Katharine Collinge,

Re; "As indicated previously you have made the incorrect assumption that in the majority of cases it would be better to allocate unspecified payments to the current year’s debt. "

The assumption is irrelevant if there were measures in place to check payment allocating and move payments to whichever year's account would be in the best interests of the customer, i.e. to avoid unnecessary recovery action, costs etc.

Re; "Where a Council Tax payer has debts outstanding for more than one year it is likely that they will incur substantially more costs if those payments are not allocated to the oldest debt first i.e. enforcement agents fees, costs associated with bankruptcy and charging orders and ultimately they may be committed to prison. "

More importantly 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. Although in the the majority of cases (rightly or wrongly assumed) that would be to the current liability, in a minority of cases, for example where a customer would potentially be liable to bankruptcy, charging orders and ultimately committal proceedings, then the council's duty would be to allocate payment to the arrears. But I would hope that the instances of the Council instituting committal proceedings etc. were the exception rather than the rule and such accounts would be closely monitored.

Re; "However, we also made clear that we take a flexible approach to this issue and where a dispute arises about the allocation of an unspecified payment we would always take each case on its own merits considering the interests of the Council Tax payer."

Fair comment, except for the fact that the council considers the interests of the customer, implying the use of discretion.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth