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

The request was successful.

Dear North Norfolk District 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 North Norfolk Council have its computer software set to deal with non specific payments. Current or oldest year's liability?

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

North Norfolk District Council

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Sean Knight, North Norfolk District Council

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Dear Gwyn Worth

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST

 

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Request 009010 received on 18
October 2017.

 

I have included the answer to your questions in the table below:-

  

Question Question Answer
Numbers
1.      How does North Norfolk Council Oldest year's liability.
have its computer software set to
deal with non-specific payments. Please note we use Civica
Current or oldest year's Software Solutions and if the
liability? payment matches an instalment,
multiples of instalments or the
whole amount outstanding for a
year then it will be correctly
applied. If none of these match
the payment then we would apply
the payment from the oldest
debt but have successful
procedures to deal with
customers who later contact us
to request this payment to be
moved to another debt.  

 

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the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.  [1]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Sean P Knight IRRV (Hons)

Freedom of Information Officer

North Norfolk District Council

Tel: 01263 513811 Extn: 6347
DDl: 01263 516347
email: [2][email address]

 

[3]www.northnorfolk.org 

 

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[4]North [5]Twitter
Norfolk
District   [7]http://www2.north-norfolk.gov.uk/images/...
Council
[6]Facebook

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Sean Knight
Revenues Manager
+441263 516347

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Dear Sean Knight,

Thank you for stating that unmatched payments are applied to the oldest debt.

Would you please confirm whether or not any measures are in place (other than relying on customer contact) 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

Dear Sean Knight,

Will you please acknowledge receipt of my 6 November 2017 request/clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Sean Knight, North Norfolk District Council

Dear Mr Worth

Thank you for your email.

The Revenues Service undertake checks at the issue of reminder notices and
summons notices to try to avoid unnecessary recovery action and additional
costs being placed on an account.

In addition to this, should a customer contact us to state that a payment
was in relation to a specific financial year or debt amount, that payment
would be allocated accordingly.

Yours Sincerely

Sean Knight

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Dear Sean Knight,

Thank you for clarifying your response. I consider North Norfolk District Council has provided the information I requested. 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 in the majority of cases 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's response (see *NOTE*) that there are measures in place to ensure that unspecified payments are allocated to the account which it is least burdensome for the debtor, and consequently the laws surrounding the appropriation of payments are being complied with. This effectively means that 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 from what I have stated I would appreciate if you would correct me.

*NOTE*: "The Revenues Service undertake checks at the issue of reminder notices and summons notices to try to avoid unnecessary recovery action and additional costs being placed on an account. In addition to this, should a customer contact us to state that a payment was in relation to a specific financial year or debt amount, that payment would be allocated accordingly."

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Sean Knight, North Norfolk District Council

Dear Gwyn Worth

Your summary of my point appears to be correct.

Yours Sincerely

Sean Knight

Sean Knight
Revenues Manager
+441263 516347

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Dear Sean Knight,

Thank you, I appreciate your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

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