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

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Stroud District Council

The system parameters are set for cash allocation to oldest arrears. 

 

Should a customer contact us for a special payment arrangement, we would
look at the individual circumstances and decide the best course of action
then. Often, this may be clearing the current debt first with a smaller
amount off the arrears and withholding action for payment rather than
incurring extra costs.  

 

Regards

Stroud District Council

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Stroud District Council,

Thank you for your response. I consider Stroud District 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 faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Stroud District Council

I can further add, that where a customer pays a statutory monthly instalment which matches the payment profile eg £101.37 it will be allocated the current year as intended rather than the arrears. Where ever possible we take steps not to incur additional costs for the customer

Stroud District Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Stroud District Council,

Re; "Where ever possible we take steps not to incur additional costs for the customer"

Can you please confirm what steps are taken (and under what circumstances) to avoid the customer incurring additional costs?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Stroud District Council,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 29 November 2017 request/clarification.

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Dear Stroud District Council,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 29 November 2017 and 6 February 2018 request/clarification.

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Stroud District Council

Dear Gwyn

 

I have checked with my colleague who dealt with your request and been
advised that they responded to you with the following clarification:

 

“I can further add, that where a customer pays a statutory monthly
instalment which matches the payment profile eg £101.37 it will be
allocated the current year as intended rather than the arrears. Where ever
possible we take steps not to incur additional costs for the customer”

 

Kind regards

 

Mrs K Taubert

Senior Customer Services Advisor

 

Stroud District Council

Council Offices, Ebley Mill Stroud,

Glos, GL5 4UB.

 

Tel:         01453 766321

Email:      [1][Stroud District Council request email]

Website: [2]www.stroud.gov.uk

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Stroud District Council,

Thank you for your further clarification, however, the opinion expressed in my 28 November 2017 has not changed as the council has been unconvincing that it has adequate measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor and therefore the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are not being complied with.

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Stroud District Council

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This will now be passed to the relevant area(s) of the authority and a
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