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CIPFA Council Tax benchmarking club - Questionnaire

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Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

Please disclose completed Council Tax CIPFA benchmarking club questionnaires for all years since 2008 to present.

Yours faithfully,

Francis

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

I am pleased to acknowledge your request for information, which has been allocated the reference number NELC/8155/1718.

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of Information requests is available on our website at:
https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor... .

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or assistance quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

North East Lincolnshire Council

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Dear PPD - FOI,

This request is delayed. According to the law a response should have been provide by 2 March 2018.

Yours sincerely,

Fran Conatra

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

9 Attachments

Dear Sir or Madam

 

Thank you for your information request, reference number 8155_1718.

 

I wish to confirm that North East Lincolnshire Council holds the following
information.

 

 

Please disclose completed Council Tax CIPFA benchmarking club
questionnaires for all years since 2008 to present.

 

Please see attached questionnaires as requested.

 

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to
request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which
elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are
unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal
review process.  If following this you are still dissatisfied you may
contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request
an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary
arrangements.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

 

 

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Dear PPD - FOI,

Thank you for the information. I have a query about the data provided under Item 4(d) of the questionnaire. For example, the spreadsheet relating to 2015 provides no data for the number of Special arrangements 'pre' and 'post' liability order. However, under "Text Questions" (Item 11) the following is stated in answer to one of the questions which suggests that there are arrangements and there should be data supplied relating to them:

"Staff continue to be flexible with instalments/arrangements, removing costs incurred at the end of a successful arrangement period."

Also the total cost of collecting council tax for the period 2014/15 is £741,000 (the same spreadsheet). The calculation provided on the council's website for the corresponding year gives a figure of £630,530 to be the aggregate of issuing summons and liability orders. Is it correct that 85% of the total budget is attributable to applying for court orders?

Yours sincerely,

Fran Conatra

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

I am pleased to acknowledge your further request for information, which has been allocated the reference number NELC/8155/1718.

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of Information requests is available on our website at:
https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or assistance quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

North East Lincolnshire Council

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir or Madam

 

Thank you for your further correspondence in relation to information
request, reference number 8155_1718.

 

I wish to confirm that North East Lincolnshire Council holds the following
information.

 

Thank you for the information. I have a query about the data provided
under Item 4(d) of the questionnaire. For example, the spreadsheet
relating to 2015 provides no data for the number of Special arrangements
'pre' and 'post' liability order. However, under "Text Questions" (Item
11) the following is stated in answer to one of the questions which
suggests that there are arrangements and there should be data supplied
relating to them:

 

"Staff continue to be flexible with instalments/arrangements, removing
costs incurred at the end of a successful arrangement period."

 

·         The number of special arrangements entered into by the authority
is not  easily quantifiable as accounts can move between enforcement
stages on a daily basis – as such this information is not available within
the appropriate limit.

 

We have estimated, that the time required for the activities needed to
locate, retrieve and extract the information you have requested would
exceed the appropriate limit of £450 (18 hours).

 

For each record we will need to locate the file and there is a minimum of
43,000. We have estimated it would take approximately 5 minutes per record
to find the information, equating to approximately 3583 hours or a cost of
£89,575 based on an hourly rate of £25 per hour.

 

Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a public
authority is not obliged to comply with a request where the estimated cost
of doing so would exceed the appropriate limit. The Council’s Charging
Policy for information requests, which clearly sets out our
responsibilities and how the charging policy is applied, is available on
our website at:
[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

 

We will therefore not be complying with your request, at this time by
virtue of section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act, as to do so would
exceed the appropriate limit of £450.

 

As a Council we are committed to the Freedom of Information Act and are
happy to support where ever possible any request for information we
receive. We would like to offer you our advice and assistance to refine
your request, so the appropriate limit will not be exceeded and the
information can be provided free of charge. 

 

We are unable to identify any way the information required to be searched
could be reduced as the accounts are in a constantly fluid state and every
account outstanding would need to be checked to see what accounts have
been at an arrangement.

 

Also the total cost of collecting council tax for the period 2014/15 is
£741,000 (the same spreadsheet). The calculation provided on the council's
website for the corresponding year gives a figure of £630,530 to be the
aggregate of issuing summons and liability orders. Is it correct that 85%
of the total budget is attributable to applying for court orders?

 

·         The two figures quoted are not comparable as each incorporates
different components and the figures relate to different financial years.
In answer to the query it is not correct that 85% of the total budget is
attributable to applying court costs.

 

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to
request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which
elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are
unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal
review process.  If following this you are still dissatisfied you may
contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request
an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary
arrangements.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

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Dear PPD - FOI,

Thank you. You have stated the following.

"The two figures quoted are not comparable as each incorporates different components and the figures relate to different financial years. In answer to the query it is not correct that 85% of the total budget is attributable to applying court costs."

It would have been helpful if the council explained its response. Under the heading, "what should we do when we receive a request for information" of the ICO guidance https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui... it states the following.

"Under the Act, if you have information in your records that answers the question you should provide it in response to the request"

Can you please provide whatever information that answers the question, for example regarding the different components and state which figures correspond to the same financial year.

Yours sincerely,

Fran Conatra

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

I am pleased to acknowledge your correspondence and wish to confirm that an Internal Review of the handling of your Information Request NELC/8155/1819 is to take place.

The Internal Review has been passed to the relevant department for processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of Information requests is available on our website at: https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or assistance quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

North East Lincolnshire Council

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam 

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information
request NELC/8155/1819, concerning CIPFA benchmarking data.

I have reviewed the response provided to you and the handling of your
request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and find:

o That your request was responded to within the statutory time of 20
working days;
o That you were informed whether or not the information you asked for
was held by North East Lincolnshire Council;
o That you were provided with the information you asked for available
under the Freedom of Information Act;
o That your response provided you with your rights of appeal. 

I am therefore satisfied that the Council has acted in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act in the handling of your request.

I have now had the opportunity to review NELC’s returns that are referred
to in the response previously provided to you and I wish to provide you
with the below amended response. 

 

The percentage calculation made uses different information, one for
2014/15 (actuals) and the other for 2014/15 (estimate) and therefore these
are not directly comparable and it is not appropriate to perform the
calculation to achieve an accurate percentage figure.

 

The £741k figure quoted in the CIPFA return is also after enforcement
income is deducted, the figure to calculate a percentage from would more
accurately be the gross costs, which for 2014/15  is shown on the return
as £1,256k. Note also that the CIPFA return has other differences to that
shown in the Summons calculation (e.g. NNDR Debt Recovery element is not
included in the CIPFA return total figures)

 

The estimated gross costs at the start of the financial year, used for
calculating summons charges, are included within the figures below and the
total shown. Work specifically related to the summons is 24% of the
Council Tax team, 51% of the Debt Recovery team and 20% of the Control and
Monitoring Team. The overall percentage of the cost of the team’s involved
in the process is £630,530/£2,024,890 = 31%.

 

A0191/A1549          A0187/A1551           Debt  A0184 Control &
Council Tax Recovery Monitoring  Total
Gross
Collection and                           720,918              404,313          2,024,890
Recovery 899,659
expenditure
Less recharges
between cost
centres that                                        -                   
results in 34,580 34,580
duplication of
cost
Estimated
enforcement
costs budget               
codes LL103                  40,800   40,800
13,600 summons
multiplied by
£3
Enforcement
Costs - staff
and overheads                156,427                156,427
(see debt
recovery
salaries tab)
Collection
costs for
taxpayers who
pay before                               648,809
summons issued 648,809
(see
calculation
tab)
Estimate of
Control and
monitoring
time on non                  323,450              323,450
council tax
summons
activity (80%)
Debt recovery
costs for
NDR/Housing                157,107                157,107
Benefit/Sundry
debtors (30%)
Gross
Recoverable
costs                           366,584                80,863              663,716
(including 216,270
liability
orders)
24% 51% 20% 33%
Further work
to liability
order               
(estimate at 33,186
5% of Gross
Recoverable
costs)
Gross
Recoverable              630,530
costs

 

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

 

North East Lincolnshire Council

 

 

 

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Fran Conatra left an annotation ()

The figures in the calculation (the response) are all jumbled up. The spreadsheet from which it appears to have been copied is linked to below.

"Summons cost calculation 2014/15 (XLS)"

https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/wp-content/up...

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Fran Conatra please sign in and let everyone know.

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