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

Gwyn Worth made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Blaenau Gwent County 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 Blaenau Gwent County 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 Blaenau Gwent Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Dear Gwyn Worth,

I acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information request and will liaise with the relevant Department in order to provide a response.

We will endeavour to provide this information within 20 working days.

Yours faithfully,

FOI Team

 Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
  Legal Section, The General Offices, Steel Works Road, Ebbw Vale  NP23 6DN
  Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Blaenau Gwent
Mae'r Adain Gyfreithiol, Y Swyddfeydd Cyffredinol, Heol Gwaith Dur, Glyn Ebwy NP23 6DN

Mae’r Cyngor yn croesawu gohebiarth yn Gymraeg a saesneg a byddwn yn cyfathrebu gyda chi yn eich dewis iaith, dim ond I chi rhoi gwybod I ni pa un sydd well gennych. Ni fydd gohebu yn Gymraeg yn creu unrhyw oedi.
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If you are not happy with the way in which your request has been dealt with please respond requesting an internal review. You may also contact the Information Commissioner if you are still not happy with the way your request has been dealt with.

The Information Commissioner’s address is:
Information Commissioner’s Office – Wales
2nd Floor, Churchill House
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Cardiff
CF10 2HH
Telephone: 029 2067 8400
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Email: [email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Dear Gwyn,

 

Further to your enquiry regarding how non-specific payments are allocated,
our system is set to allocate to the oldest year liability.

However, should recovery action occur in the current year and the Council
Tax Payer contacts us there is flexibility to re-allocate the payment.

 

Should you require any  further assistance please do not hesitate to
contact me.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Karen Williams

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council,

Thank you for your response. I consider Blaenau Gwent County 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 faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Dear Gwyn,

Further to your previous email I think there may be some misunderstanding
in relation to our statement on the flexibility on allocating payments.

If we believe the customers intention was to pay the current year, we
would move this to the current year in order to avoid unnecessary recovery
action and costs.

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

Kind Regards,

Karen Williams

 

 

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council,

Re; "If we believe the customers intention was to pay the current year, we would move this to the current year in order to avoid unnecessary recovery action and costs."

Can I assume there are routine checks carried out by staff for unmatched payments, or does the council only move payments when alerted by the customer?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Hi Gwyn,

 

During the recovery process accounts are routinely checked to ensure
payments are allocated to the correct year, being mindful that it is not
detrimental to the customer in terms of costs and recovery action.

 

Our aim and objectives is never to incur unnecessary costs or place a
Council Tax Payer into further unnecessary financial hardship.

 

Should you require any  further assistance please do not hesitate to
contact me.

 

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

 

Kind Regards

 

Karen Williams

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council,

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.

Have a Happy Christmas.

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth