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Council Tax debt summonses 2017/18

Alan Wheatley made this Freedom of Information request to Herefordshire Council

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Dear Herefordshire Council

I believe that responsible government and informed democracy require feedback on existing practices, especially concerning the impact of 'austerity' policies on economically and otherwise vulnerable people. Further, the decline of Citizens Advice and other information, advice and guidance support for such people makes it more difficult for the public to know of these impacts.

So I ask for the following information

The number of people summoned By Herefordshire Council in 2017/18
The number of liability orders granted to HCC by the Magistrates in 2017/18
The number of those liability orders granted by the magistrates against claimants of Council Tax Benefit 2017/18
The number of times HCC sent the bailiffs to collect the council tax from late and non payers showing the number of benefit claimants to whom HCC sent the bailiffs in 2017/18. 

A breakdown of the HCC court costs charged to late and non payers by HCC for summons and the liability orders to be charged in  in 2017/18 and the current year 2018/19.

Your resident

Alan Wheatley

Access To Information, Herefordshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir

 

Please find attached acknowledgement of your FOI request

 

Regards

 

Claire

 

 

Claire Jacobs

FOI / EIR Officer

Information Access Team

Economy, Communities & Corporate

Herefordshire Council

Plough Lane | PO Box 4 | Hereford HR4 OXH

 

 

“Any opinion expressed in this e-mail or any attached files are those of
the individual and not necessarily those of Herefordshire Council,
Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG), Wye Valley NHS Trust or
2gether NHS Foundation Trust. You should be aware that Herefordshire
Council, Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG), Wye Valley NHS
Trust & 2gether NHS Foundation Trust monitors its email service. This
e-mail and any attached files are confidential and intended solely for the
use of the addressee. This communication may contain material protected by
law from being passed on. If you are not the intended recipient and have
received this e-mail in error, you are advised that any use,
dissemination, forwarding, printing or copying of this e-mail is strictly
prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error please contact the
sender immediately and destroy all copies of it.”

Access To Information, Herefordshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

 

Please find attached response to your FOI request

 

Regards

 

Claire

 

 

Claire Jacobs

FOI / EIR Officer

Information Access Team

Economy, Communities & Corporate

Herefordshire Council

Plough Lane | PO Box 4 | Hereford HR4 OXH

 

 

“Any opinion expressed in this e-mail or any attached files are those of
the individual and not necessarily those of Herefordshire Council,
Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG), Wye Valley NHS Trust or
2gether NHS Foundation Trust. You should be aware that Herefordshire
Council, Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG), Wye Valley NHS
Trust & 2gether NHS Foundation Trust monitors its email service. This
e-mail and any attached files are confidential and intended solely for the
use of the addressee. This communication may contain material protected by
law from being passed on. If you are not the intended recipient and have
received this e-mail in error, you are advised that any use,
dissemination, forwarding, printing or copying of this e-mail is strictly
prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error please contact the
sender immediately and destroy all copies of it.”

Dear Access To Information

I thank you belatedly for your fairly prompt response.

I would argue, however, that your official response shows Herefordshire County Council's ability to hide behind terminology changes such as 'Housing Benefit' to 'Local Housing Allowance', and that the 'summary justice' of mass summonses obscures responsible data collection.

A careful analysis by Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty - who helped devise the Freedom of Information request - has helped to highlight a punitive regime though. I append part of his analysis.

Alan Wheatley

APPENDED ANALYSIS BY REVD PAUL NICOLSON OF TAXPAYERS AGAINST POVERTY:

Hereford has unlawfully charged £85.64 to both the 7,856 late and non payers of council tax they summons to the court and the same £85.64 to 5,895 of them against whom the council is awarded a liability order by the magistrates. In other words they are over charging 1,961 residents for a court appearance they did not make because they paid the tax on receiving the summons. See their FOI response https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

As a result of my challenge Haringey Council were made by the auditor Grant Thornton to split and reduce their costs from £125 for both summons and liability order to £102 for a summons and £115 for a liability order. ....

The Magistrates are also wrong to to have awarded those costs. "They are bound by law only to award costs that satisfy the requirements of Regulation 34(7)" see Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates https://high-court-justice.vlex.co.uk/vi...
.....

Amended Copy

Dear Claire Jacobs

I thank you belatedly for your fairly prompt response (and amend my 10 February typo transcription of Revd Paul Nicolson's citing of the number of Council Tax debt summonses issued by Herefordshire Council for 2017/18).

I would argue, however, that your official response shows Herefordshire County Council's ability to hide behind terminology changes such as 'Housing Benefit' to 'Local Housing Allowance', and that the 'summary justice' of mass summonses obscures responsible data collection.

A careful analysis by Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty - who helped devise the Freedom of Information request - has helped to highlight a punitive regime though. I append part of his analysis.

Alan Wheatley

APPENDED ANALYSIS BY REVD PAUL NICOLSON OF TAXPAYERS AGAINST POVERTY:

Hereford has unlawfully charged £85.64 to both the 7,586 late and non payers of council tax they summons to the court and the same £85.64 to 5,895 of them against whom the council is awarded a liability order by the magistrates. In other words they are over charging 1,961 residents for a court appearance they did not make because they paid the tax on receiving the summons. See their FOI response https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

As a result of my challenge Haringey Council were made by the auditor Grant Thornton to split and reduce their costs from £125 for both summons and liability order to £102 for a summons and £115 for a liability order. ....

The Magistrates are also wrong to to have awarded those costs. "They are bound by law only to award costs that satisfy the requirements of Regulation 34(7)" see Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates https://high-court-justice.vlex.co.uk/vi...
.....

Access To Information, Herefordshire Council

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email, your comments have been noted.

Regards

Information Access Team
Corporate Support
Herefordshire Council
Plough Lane | PO Box 4 | Hereford HR4 OLE

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