Council Tax costs awarded by the court in 2013 of £1,942,794.00.

Lee Johnson made this Freedom of Information request to Redbridge Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Redbridge Borough Council,

You responded to my previous FOIA request that the council was awarded £1,942,794.00 in 2013 by the court in respect of Council Tax applications, against £44,000 of fees paid to the court.

What was the profit of £1,900,000 used for by the council?

Where can I see this profit of £1,900,000 on the councils annual accounts?

Was any part of the £1,900,000 used to pay bonuses to council staff?

Was any part of the £1,900,000 used to pay for legal services by the council, for other areas such as wasted Employment Tribunal costs incurred?

Yours faithfully,

Lee Johnson

Sheila Ridler, Redbridge Borough Council

Dear Lee Johnson, 
 
I refer to your recent request regarding information concerning Council
Tax court costs income. Your request has been considered and the
information you requested is shown below.
 
You asked:
 
“You responded to my previous FOIA request that the council was awarded
£1,942,794.00 in 2013 by the court in respect of Council Tax applications,
against £44,000 of fees paid to the court.
 
What was the profit of £1,900,000 used for by the council?
 
Where can I see this profit of £1,900,000 on the councils annual accounts?
 
Was any part of the £1,900,000 used to pay bonuses to council staff?
 
Was any part of the £1,900,000 used to pay for legal services by the
council, for other areas such as wasted Employment Tribunal costs
incurred?”
 
 
Although the Council was awarded £1.94m by the Magistrates Court in
respect of costs in 2013/14, as indicated in previous responses, the
Council does in some circumstances waive the costs. This may be because, 
for example new information subsequently comes to light concerning
liability or where there are extenuating  circumstances.   The net amount
of costs which the Council sought to collect from taxpayers in 2013/14 was
£1.38m.
 
The Council's  Court Costs charges were set in May 2012, after obtaining
approval from the Court’s Judicial Leadership Group, at our local
Magistrates’ Court, based on the actual costs incurred by the Council for
recovery work.  Therefore , the summons costs awarded by the Court are  in
accordance with the requirements contained within Regulation 34 (7) (b) of
the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 -
Statutory Instrument 1992/613. 
 
In the Council's accounts, income raised is reduced by a provision for non
collection and the write off of old uncollectable debts. Overall, the net
amount after taking this into account in 2013/14 was £0.98m. This compares
to a budgeted income of £1.01m. Income is used to reduce the Council's
overall cost of collecting Council Tax. This means that taxpayers who do
pay their Council Tax on time,  and so the Council does not have to take
further recovery actions, do not have to pay for the costs involved in
chasing those that do not pay.   The gross cost of collecting Council
Tax,  including overheads in 2013/14 was £3m.  
 
The Council's Statements of Accounts are prepared on an International
Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) basis. The framework within which
these Accounts are prepared and published is regulated by the Chartered
Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), the Financial
Reporting Advisory Board and the Government.
 
Income from Court Costs is not separately identified in the Statement of
Accounts but is part of the aggregated  income and expenditure under the
section "Comprehensive Income and Expenditure Statement " which can be
found on page 14 of the Council's 2013/14 Statement of Accounts (see  link
below) . This income falls under the heading of "Central Services to the
Public" , included within the total income of £41.585m.  
 
[1]Statement of Accounts 2013/14 (pdf 1,257kb)
 
As the net  income was marginally less than the budgeted income, therefore
no "surplus" was available for any other use. 
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Information
Officer  at London Borough of Redbridge, Town Hall, PO Box 2, High Road,
Ilford, Essex, IG1 1DD,  telephone 0208 708 2331, e-mail
[2][Redbridge Borough Council request email]
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your request, you have the right of
appeal against the decision and may ask for an internal review. Please
contact the Information Officer at [3][Redbridge Borough Council request email] or write to
the  London Borough of Redbridge, Town Hall, PO Box 2, High Road, Ilford,
Essex, IG1 1DD within 20 working days of the date of the response, who
will arrange an internal review of your case.  
If you have a complaint about the handling of your enquiry then please
contact the Information Officer at e-mail [4][Redbridge Borough Council request email], , or
write to the London Borough of Redbridge, Town Hall, PO Box 2, High Road,
Ilford, Essex, IG1 1DD,  telephone 0208 708 2331, within 20 working days
of the date of this response who will arrange a review of your case.
If you consider the outcome of the London Borough of Redbridge’s
complaints procedure is not satisfactory you also have a right of appeal
to the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF 
Telephone:   0303 123 1113.
 
[5]www.ico.org.uk
 
 
Yours Sincerely
 
Sheila Ridler
Finance & Performance Manager
Payments, Benefits & Customer Services
London Borough of Redbridge
22/26 Clements Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1BD
 
Tel. 020 8708 4484
Web: [email address].uk  
Twitter:@RedbridgeLive
Facebook: [6]www.facebook.com/facebook
 
Save time , go online : [7]www.redbridge.gov.uk
 
 

Take part in the Redbridge Conversation 2014
We need to save £70m in the next three years.
Tell us what’s important to you and complete the online consultation.
[8]http://www.redbridge.gov.uk/conversation

show quoted sections

Lee Johnson left an annotation ()

This staggering yearly scam of more than £500,000,000 that are being awarded against people who are in financial difficulties, and which results in yet further costs, attachment of earnings orders, bailiffs, bankruptcies, repossessions, and all in the name of the councils exploiting a revenue avenue by smacking up to £126 for a "COSTS" order against tardy Council Tax payers; IS A SCAM! It is a Fraud.
Legal proceedings costs should only be based on the fee's for the claim/application (£3), and the cost of a solicitor preparing the claim/application (£0), plus the cost of a solicitor at the hearing (£0), Not £126.
In civil proceedings the party claiming costs has to state; "I confirm that the costs claimed do not exceed my actual costs incurred". Council Tax hearings at magistrates court are not criminal proceedings, and the same civil costs rules apply.
The "Costs" are not a fine, they are not a penalty, and they are not based on the actual costs. It is theft by all councils to charge costs of more than £3 for a Council Tax summons.

Dear Sheila Ridler,

Your PDF file of the councils accounts can't be accessed. Please provide a web page link that can be used to access this PDF document.

Two of my questions have been ignored in your response. Please respond on these two questions;

Q3, Was any part of the £1,900,000 used to pay bonuses to council
staff?

And I would suggest that you define all bonuses that are linked, or based, on revenue resulting from Council Tax "Costs".

Q4, Was any part of the £1,900,000 used to pay for legal services by the council, for other areas such as wasted Employment Tribunal costs incurred?

Yours sincerely,

Lee Johnson

Sheila Ridler, Redbridge Borough Council

I am out of the office until Mondya 22nd December. My mailbox is not being
diverted but I will respond to your enquiry on my return.

[1]Redbridge Conversation 2014

Take part in the Redbridge Conversation 2014

We need to save £70m in the next three years.
Tell us what’s important to you and complete the online consultation.

[2]http://www.redbridge.gov.uk/conversation

References

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2. http://www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/the_cou...

Sheila Ridler, Redbridge Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Lee Johnson,

I am sorry you were unable to access the link to the Council's accounts for 2013/14. For convenience, I have attached the PDF document.

With reference to questions 3 and 4 regarding the £1.9m "surplus", my response stated "As the net income was marginally less than the budgeted income, therefore no "surplus" was available for any other use ".

As previously explained, the Council's income from court costs, which represents the share of the Council's costs that relates to recovery work, is used to reduce the Council's overall (total) cost of collecting Council Tax. Actual income for 2013/14 was close to but slightly less than the budgeted level.

The total cost of collecting Council Tax, including recovery was £3m in 2013/14. Income received reduced this to £2m.

For clarification, the total cost of collecting Council Tax includes an element of legal costs. These relate to Council Tax collection only, not for any "other areas".

In response to your additional question , no Council staff receive bonuses linked or based on revenue resulting from Council Tax "Costs".

I hope this answers your points.

Yours Sincerely

Sheila Ridler
Finance & Performance Manager
Payments, Benefits & Customer Services
London Borough of Redbridge
22/26 Clements Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1BD

Tel. 020 8708 4484
Web: [email address]
Twitter:@RedbridgeLive
Facebook: www.facebook.com/facebook

Save time , go online : www.redbridge.gov.uk

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Arnold Layne (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

"...the Council's income from court costs, which represents the share of the Council's costs that relates to recovery work, is used to reduce the Council's overall (total) cost of collecting Council Tax."

If you aren't already familiar with this case it could be worth a look at.

Attfield, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Barnet [2013] EWHC 2089 (Admin) (22 July 2013)

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

In this case, the High Court ruled against Barnet Borough Council budgeting for surplus income from residential parking schemes to be used to meet other transport expenditure.

There are similarities between this and how councils use income generated from court costs to pay for administering Council Tax.

Redbridge Borough Council is obviously misconceived thinking it may use proceeds from court costs to pay its entire recovery budget when the law only provides for them to cover expenditure of issuing summonses / obtaining liability orders.

Dear Redbridge Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Redbridge Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council Tax costs awarded by the court in 2013 of £1,942,794.00.'.

As you can see from the WhatDoTheyKnow web site I've been provided with a Judicial Review judgement ; Attfield, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Barnet [2013] EWHC 2089 (Admin) (22 July 2013)

This JR concerns Barnet Council illegally increasing residents parking charges to pay for other council services, much the same as all 468 councils in the UK keep increasing council tax summons costs out of all proportion to the actual costs of issuing a summons, and claiming that the excess is applied for other council services.

I am advised that this JR judgment applies equally to the outrageous council tax summonses costs that are charged by Redbridge.

Please re-consider your response to my FOIA request in the light of this JR judgment, and consider that it is only going to take one person to issue a JR against Redbridge and these outrageous council tax summonses costs to effect a UK wide change.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Lee Johnson

FoI (Freedom of Information), Redbridge Borough Council

Dear Mr Johnson,

Thank you for your email in which you have requested an internal review of the request you made under the Freedom of Information Act. An internal review occurs when a person complains that they are not happy with the way their request for information was carried out, or if they feel they have not had the information they asked for. 

As part of the review, another officer will look at the original request, speak to the officers involved in responding originally, and will then come to a conclusion as to whether the request was properly handled and if all the information that could be provided was provided. 

When the review is completed you will receive a comprehensive response regarding all these matters.
 
Please note that the Freedom of Information Act does not stipulate a time limit for completion of an internal review, but the section 45 Code states that they should be dealt with in a reasonable timeframe. The Information Commissioner’s view is that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Jackie Lammin
Corporate FOI Team
London Borough of Redbridge
Redbridge Town Hall, 128-142 High Road, Ilford, IG1 1DD
 
Tel: 020 8708 2161
Email: [Redbridge Borough Council request email]
Web: www.redbridge.gov.uk
Twitter: @RedbridgeLive
Facebook: www.facebook.com/redbridgelive

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Colin Young, Redbridge Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Johnson,

 

Please see attached the results of the Council’s internal review of the
above freedom of information request.

 

Regards,

 

Colin Young

Head of Debt Collection

Payments, Benefits & Customer Services

London Borough of Redbridge

22/26 Clements Road, Ilford, IG1 1BD

 

Tel: 020 8708 4381

Email: [1][email address]

Web: [2]www.redbridge.gov.uk

Twitter: @RedbridgeLive

Facebook: [3]www.facebook.com/redbridgelive

 

Save time, go online: [4]www.redbridge.gov.uk

 

[5]Redbridge Conversation 2014

Take part in the Redbridge Conversation 2014

We need to save £70m in the next three years.
Tell us what’s important to you and complete the online consultation.

[6]http://www.redbridge.gov.uk/conversation

show quoted sections

Arnold Layne (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Quoted from Redbridge Borough Council's 15 January 2015 response:

"I note your statement that you have been advised that the judicial review judgment: Attfield, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Barnet [2013] EWHC 2089 (Admin) (22 July 2013) which concerns parking charges, also applies to Council Tax court costs.

However, as you were advised by email on 16 December 2014, the Magistrates Court makes the decision of the level of costs to award to the Council based on the actual costs incurred by the Council for recovery work. The summons costs awarded by the Court are in accordance with the requirements contained within Regulation 34 (7) (b) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992- Statutory Instrument 1992/613. This legislation specifically applies to Council Tax only. A judicial review judgment concerning parking charges cannot, therefore, be of any precedent value in Council Tax cases."

It seems Redbridge Borough Council doesn't quite get it (or pretends not to) that a comparison is drawn because like Barnet Council budgeting for surplus income from parking charges, Redbridge are similarly abusing Magistrates' court costs to budget for surplus income to fund the council tax operation. If anything, the exploitation of the court system is more serious because the council must be submitting false accounts to the MoJ. Further to this, the court must be complicit because the accounts are obviously not being questioned.

It might as well have said that a case would have no precedent value relating to an authority picking a resident's left pocket because the judgment specifically concerned the theft from the right.

Also,

Redbridge has stated that the summons costs awarded are in accordance with the requirements contained within Regulation 34(7)(b), however, this is the regulation that provides for obtaining the liability order. Regulation 34(5)(b) provides for summons costs.