Council Tax recovery – Payment Incentives for take-up of Direct Debit

Hump Balustrade made this Freedom of Information request to Rutland County 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 Rutland County Council,

Q1. In relation to Council Tax and after recovery action has
commenced, please supply the number of account payers who;

a) as a consequence of entering into payment arrangements and agreeing to make payment by Direct Debit, have had recovery action suspended?

b) after receiving a final notice, instalments were reinstated as a consequence of entering into payment arrangements and agreeing to make payment by Direct Debit.

c) after receiving a summons to appear at the Magistrates Court, have had the Summons and costs withdrawn as a consequence of entering into payment arrangements and agreeing to make payment by Direct debit?

In all cases, please categorise separately the number by year from 2008 to date.

Q2. Which law states that a billing authority may circumvent legislation and exploit this for negotiating take-up of Direct Debit, assuming this has been done by:

a) having recovery action suspended

b) reinstating instalments after being withdrawn

c) having Summons and costs withdrawn

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, R23 (Failure to pay instalments) would have been favourite, but nothing obvious I can see.

Yours faithfully,

Hump Balustrade

FOI, Rutland County Council

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

The response from Rutland County Council is as follows:

 

Our reporting systems are unable to provide a breakdown of the detail that
is required for question 1. 

 

In response to question 2, Rutland County Council has collection guidance
in place, a copy of which is available on our website at:
[1]http://www.rutland.gov.uk/advice_and_ben...

 

Arrangements may be set up in accordance with Regulations 20 & 21 of the
Council Tax (Administration & Enforcement) Regulations 1992/613.

 

Regulation 21(5) states:

 

Council tax: payments

21 (5) A billing authority and a liable person may agree that the amount
mentioned in regulation 20(2) which is required to be paid under a notice
to which regulation 20(1) applies shall be paid in such manner as is
provided by the agreement.

 

 

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request a review by writing to:-

 

Monitoring Officer, Rutland County Council, Catmose, Oakham, Rutland, LE15
6HP

Telephone: 01572 722577  e-mail: [2][email address]

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:-

The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45 Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

 

Freedom of Information

Rutland County Council

Catmose, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6HP

t: 01572 722577 | e: [3][email address]

 

 

 

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Dear Rutland County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Rutland County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council Tax recovery – Payment Incentives for take-up of Direct Debit'.

Could you please look into this request again as it is likely the council (in relation to question 1) will be required to record these details for monitoring purposes etc.

If it helps I will narrow the scope of the request with respect question 1 as follows:

Q1. In relation to Council Tax and after recovery action has commenced, please supply the number of account payers who as a consequence of entering into payment arrangements and agreeing to make payment by Direct Debit, have had Summons costs withdrawn.

I will also amend the time period to include 2010 to date.

I have looked at SI 1992/613 and don't see that Regulations 20 & 21 constitute a clause permitting the billing authority to give concessions in the circumstances described in question 2.

Regulation 21 states:

"21.—(1) Unless—

(a) an agreement under paragraph (5) in relation to the relevant year has been reached between the billing authority and the liable person before the demand notice is issued... "

This appears to have relevance only to payment arrangements, agreed prior to the issue of the council tax bill. It appears to have no provision for recovery action and imposed costs to be reversed because an arrangement is made after recovery action has commenced.

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

Yours faithfully,

Hump Balustrade

Neil Gilliatt (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

This has further reaching implications for the council and rate payer than simply whether or not a concession is given for the take-up of Direct Debit.

All councils have to adhere to a set procedure which is laid down in statute whilst obtaining liability orders for council tax arrears through the court.

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 state under regulation 34 exactly what steps the authority must take.

Anyone having been embroiled in any statutory procedure knows that the "get-out-of-jail-free" card favoured most is that the law won't allow their involvement.

Statutes are devised so meticulously that invariably each organisation can simply state that their hands are tied and play their "procedures are laid down in statute” card.

Interestingly though, if the authority is able to benefit by bending the rules (securing additional Direct Debit payers in this instance), it seems they view the law as optional.

This has other implications with regards costs that the alleged defaulters have to pay. Specifically those who receive no concessions for converting to Direct Debit.

The biggest factor determining the level of costs the court awards is the number of householders having to pay them. The remainder will be incurring higher costs as a consequence of fewer account payers having to because of concessions made for doing deals with the council.

These are the key issues as I see them:

1) Householders incurring these penalties are being forced to pay increased costs because of the concessions given by the council in its campaign for greater take-up of Direct Debit (the council's preferred payment method).

2) Unless a specific clause in the legislation provides for the council to apply regulations discretionally (bargaining power to negotiate take-up of Direct Debit for example), then the authority will almost certainly be breaking the law.

Dear FOI,

I submitted a Freedom of Information review on 22 October 2012.

Should you not have replied to it by now?

Yours sincerely,

Hump Balustrade

Dear FOI,

I submitted a Freedom of Information review on 22 October 2012.

Almost 3 months should have been sufficient time for your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Hump Balustrade

Dear Rutland County Council,

This was originally submitted on 22 October 2012 and has not been addressed.

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Rutland County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council Tax recovery – Payment Incentives for take-up of Direct Debit'.

Could you please look into this request again as it is likely the
council (in relation to question 1) will be required to record
these details for monitoring purposes etc.

If it helps I will narrow the scope of the request with respect
question 1 as follows:

Q1. In relation to Council Tax and after recovery action has
commenced, please supply the number of account payers who as a
consequence of entering into payment arrangements and agreeing to
make payment by Direct Debit, have had Summons costs withdrawn.

I will also amend the time period to include 2010 to date.

I have looked at SI 1992/613 and don't see that Regulations 20 & 21
constitute a clause permitting the billing authority to give
concessions in the circumstances described in question 2.

Regulation 21 states:

"21.—(1) Unless—

(a) an agreement under paragraph (5) in relation to the relevant
year has been reached between the billing authority and the liable
person before the demand notice is issued... "

This appears to have relevance only to payment arrangements, agreed
prior to the issue of the council tax bill. It appears to have no
provision for recovery action and imposed costs to be reversed
because an arrangement is made after recovery action has commenced.

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

Yours faithfully,

Hump Balustrade

Dear FOI,

Any news?

Yours sincerely,

Hump Balustrade

Hump Balustrade

Dear FOI,

I submitted this for review 21 February 2013.

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Rutland County Council should have responded by now.

If this matter doesn't receive attention within 7 working days a complaint will be submitted to the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Hump Balustrade

FOI, Rutland County Council

This has today been forwarded to the Monitoring Officer (Interim) for response.

Freedom of Information
Rutland County Council
Catmose, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6HP
t: 01572 722577 | e: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

Re;

I submitted this for review 21 February 2013.

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all
circumstances, Rutland County Council should have responded by now.

Yours sincerely,

Hump Balustrade

FOI, Rutland County Council

1 Attachment

Good afternoon,

 

Please find attached the response from Rutland County Council.

 

Regards

 

Freedom of Information

Rutland County Council

Catmose, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6HP

t: 01572 722577 | e: [1][email address]

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rutland County Council

Customer Service Centre: 01572 722 577

Visitor Parking Information & Map:
http://www.rutland.gov.uk/customer_servi...

Email Enquiries: [email address]
Council Website: http://www.rutland.gov.uk
Visiting Rutland? http://www.discover-rutland.co.uk

The views expressed in this email are those of the author and may not be
official policy.
Internet email should not be treated as a secure form of communication.
Please notify the sender if received in error.

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

Dear FOI,

Your response clearly suggests that the council is breaking the law in an attempt to coerce taxpayers to convert to paying by Direct Debit.

New request:

Q. Please disclose recorded information on which the council relies for the purpose of circumventing Statutory Instrument 1992/613 and exploiting for negotiating take-up of Direct Debit, assuming this has been done by:

a) having recovery action suspended

b) reinstating instalments after being withdrawn

c) having Summons and costs withdrawn

Yours sincerely,

Hump Balustrade

Sue Bingham,

1 Attachment

Good afternoon,

 

Please find attached the response from Rutland County Council.

 

Regards

 

Freedom of Information

Rutland County Council

Catmose, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6HP

t: 01572 722577 | e: [1][email address]

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rutland County Council

Customer Service Centre: 01572 722 577

Visitor Parking Information & Map:
http://www.rutland.gov.uk/customer_servi...

Email Enquiries: [email address]
Council Website: http://www.rutland.gov.uk
Visiting Rutland? http://www.discover-rutland.co.uk

The views expressed in this email are those of the author and may not be
official policy.
Internet email should not be treated as a secure form of communication.
Please notify the sender if received in error.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

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