Calculation of Bristol City Council's costs when applying for a liability order for non-payment of Council Tax

Ben Sansum made this Freedom of Information request to Bristol City Council

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Dear Sir or Madam,

Please provide a breakdown of the different elements and/or actions that make up the £97 listed as the councils costs on the Bristol City Council Summons for non-payment of Council Tax. I have searched the Councils website but cannot find this information.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Sansum

Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

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Martin Smith, Bristol City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sansom

Freedom of information request dated 2 April 2008.

With regard to how the costs are made up I attach a breakdown of costs for the financial year 2007/08. The cost figure takes the percentage of staff involvement in the recovery of Council Tax from the summons stage onwards. This figure is assessed at 27.3% and is taken from our gross local taxation budget of £5.665 million to arrive at a cost of £1.55 million. The estimated number of summonses processed in the financial year is 16000 and this is divided into £1.55 million which equals £97.This figure is reviewed annually.

The costs applied to summonses, by Bristol City Council Local Taxation, is notified to the Clerk to the Justices of Bristol Magistrates Court on an annual basis and is circulated to the Magistrates. The Court and the Magistrates have accepted the level of costs at our Liability Order hearings.

The purpose of the calculation is to determine an amount reasonably incurred in obtaining a liability order for payment. There is no prescribed method on how these costs should be derived and the calculation attached is an estimate of such.

The calculation of staff time (27.3%) is intended to estimate the time involved in all summons related work to obtain a liability order. This does not include for example issue of bills or reminders and time taken on enforcement of payment after a court liability order has been obtained.

For your information the task areas that the costs will cover will include for example:-

· Extracting from the revenues database preliminary summons lists
· Checking the preliminary summons extract
· Cross checking to ensure that the selected accounts have no relevant outstanding work which
should prevent a summons issue
· Production of a final summons extract
· Production of a complaint list for the court
· Production & posting of a summons to the defaulter
· Producing copy summonses for court purposes
· Answering telephone calls resultant from the issue of a summons
· Answering letters resultant from the issue of a summons
· Attending Court and prosecuting defaulters on behalf of the City Council
· Updating defaulters accounts to record the actions taken / agreements reached

this is not an exhaustive list but illustrates some of the key processes that the costs are intended to cover.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, or [Bristol City Council request email]. Details of the complaints procedure can be found at
If, after you have exhausted the council’s complaints procedure, you are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right to complain can be found at
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Yours sincerely

Martin Smith
Local Tax Group Leader.

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Paul Malpas left an annotation ()

I want to work for BCC, I know they need other overheads accounted for but their calculation (in 2008) allowed for a cost of over £73000 / member of staff working on summons activity!!!!!!!

Neil Gilliatt (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

I've looked at this costing before but was put off trying to decipher it.

I concluded it had been devised in such a way to put off anyone trying to make sense of it.

However, I've just revisited it and this time concluded it to be complete rubbish, though a slight of hand trick would probably better describe it.