Ensuring customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

The request was successful.

Dear Charnwood Borough Council,

A council taxpayer who owes more than just the current year's liability runs the risk of incurring additional recovery costs through a further application for a liability order if payments which are intended for the current year's liability are allocated by the council's computer to the previous year's liability. This would most likely happen where a non specific payment is made and the computer software is set to automatically allocate these payments to the oldest year's debt.

Councils computer systems have the necessary flexibility to be set to allow non specific payments to be allocated to the arrears or the current year's liability.

I understand that the majority of billing authorities have their computer software set to ensure that their customers are not subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship, i.e. so non specific payments are allocated to the current year's liability.

How does Charnwood Borough Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

foi@charnwood.gov.uk, Charnwood Borough Council

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Thank you for your information request which is acknowledged.
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Yours sincerely
Megan Bilton
Data Protection and Information Security Officer Charnwood Borough Council e-mail [Charnwood Borough Council request email] Tel 01509 634711

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foi@charnwood.gov.uk, Charnwood Borough Council

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Dear Gwyn Worth

 

Following the above information request I am able to provide the following
information:

Our Council Tax system contains a facility which attempts to match
payments made with any instalment, groups of instalments, or full notice
(yearly) debt.

 

Payments will be allocated where any match is found. Where no match is
found then the payment will be allocated to the oldest debt.

 

If you would like to re-use the information provided, please see the
[1]re-use page on our website

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me.  I have outlined
our Freedom of Information Complaints Procedure below should you need to
make use of it.

Yours sincerely,

 

Megan Bilton

Data Protection and Information Security Officer

Charnwood Borough Council

[2][Charnwood Borough Council request email]

01509 634711

 

Charnwood Borough Council Freedom of Information and Environmental
Information complaints procedure

 

Informal Complaints Procedure

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your request has been
handled please contact me, and I will try to resolve your complaint on an
informal basis within 15 working days.

If you are then still dissatisfied with the response, please follow the
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Put your formal complaint in writing, providing any supporting evidence,
to the Corporate Service Development Officer at the address noted below,
who will then investigate and respond to your complaint within 20 working
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If the Corporate Service Development Officer dealt with your initial
request for information your complaint will automatically be referred to
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independent consideration.

Write to: Corporate Service Development Officer
Charnwood Borough Council
Southfield Road
Loughborough
Leicestershire
LE11 2TU
Telephone: 01509 634596
E-mail: [3][Charnwood Borough Council request email]

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
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There is no charge for making an appeal.

 

 

 

Dear [email address],

Thank you for stating that 'payments will be allocated where any match is found. Where no match is found then the payment will be allocated to the oldest debt'.

Would you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place to check that allocating an unmatched payment to the oldest debt in these circumstances would have the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears, and if so, in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953] 1 Q.B. 533, whether the payment would be moved in respect of the current year's account to avoid unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

foi@charnwood.gov.uk, Charnwood Borough Council

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Dear Mr Worth,

In response to your follow-up query, I would clarify that payments would be allocated as requested by taxpayers, whether that is to the current or older debts. The allocation of unmatched payments to oldest debt only applies where there is no allocation preference expressed by the taxpayer. If requested by the taxpayer, unmatched payments may be moved to current debts in order to avoid further recovery action.

Kind regards

Megan

Megan Bilton
Data Protection and Information Security Officer Charnwood Borough Council [Charnwood Borough Council request email]
01509 634711

www.charnwood.gov.uk
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Dear [email address],

Thank you for your response. I consider Charnwood Borough Council has provided the information I requested, however, the purpose of this exercise was to ascertain whether or not the principles surrounding the appropriation of payments were being adhered to.

R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953)

It was held in R v Miskin Lower Justices, that where an amount obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere.

If no instruction is given at the time of payment, then the council has a duty to allocate payment to the account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. That would be the current liability if the consequences of allocating payment to the arrears meant that the customer was subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs etc.

I understand by the council having not indicated that there are measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor that the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are not being complied with. If the laws of appropriation were being complied with, an unmatched payment allocated to the oldest debt (having the consequences of putting the current year's liability also in arrears) would be reallocated to the current year's liability on account of the circumstances implying that this was the debtor's intention (least burdensome for the debtor).

If it appears I have misunderstood anything by what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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