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

Gwyn Worth made this Freedom of Information request to North Kesteven District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

NK - FOI, North Kesteven District Council

Ref No: 17/352

 

19 October 2017

 

Dear Mr Worth

 

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request regarding: Computer
Software for Non Specific Payments.

 

We can confirm your request was registered on 19 October 2017. This will
be dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
answered within twenty working days. 

 

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you, and you will be
required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

 

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact the
department. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any
future communications.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Snowden

Performance and Information Assistant

Corporate Information Team

North Kesteven District Council

Tel No. 01529 414155 Ext 28186

 

NK - FOI, North Kesteven District Council

Ref No: 17/352

 

20 October 2017

 

Dear Mr Worth

 

We refer to previous correspondence regarding your request for information
relating to: Computer Software for Non Specific Payments.

 

The following information has been provided by City of Lincoln Council who
administer Council Tax on behalf of North Kesteven District Council:

 

“Our system is set up to allocate payments to the oldest debts if it is
unable to automatically match it to a current instalment.”

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted to the Freedom of Information Officer within two months of the
date of receipt of the response to your original letter either via email
at: [1][North Kesteven District Council request email] or by post to North Kesteven District
Council, Corporate and Customer Services, Kesteven Street, Sleaford,
Lincs, NG34 7EF.

 

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.

 

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Snowden

Performance and Information Assistant

Corporate Information Team

North Kesteven District Council

Tel No. 01529 414155 Ext 28186

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[North Kesteven District Council request email]

Dear NK - FOI,

Thank you for stating that your "system is set up to allocate payments to the oldest debts if it is unable to automatically match it to a current instalment.”

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

NK - FOI, North Kesteven District Council

Dear Mr Worth

 

Thank you for your email.

 

This has been forwarded to City of Lincoln Council to review.

 

Once a response has been received this will be sent to you.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ms Helen Snowden

Performance and Information Assistant

Corporate Information Team

North Kesteven District Council

Tel No. 01529 414155 Ext 28186

 

NK - FOI, North Kesteven District Council

Ref No: 17/352

 

2 November 2017

 

Dear Mr Worth

 

Further to your email dated 20 October 2017 to receive additional
information related to your FOI request.

 

We have been provided with the following from City of Lincoln Council:

 

“The system follows various rules depending on the situation of the
customer. If an unmatched payment went to a previous liability in the
situation you have described then we would move the payment to the
intended year if requested. These are looked at on a case by case basis
and the decision will be made by the council tax team if the payment isn't
obviously intended for a specific debt.”

 

We trust this answers your query.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Snowden

Performance and Information Assistant

Corporate Information Team

North Kesteven District Council

Tel No. 01529 414155 Ext 28186

 

Dear NK - FOI,

Re; "If an unmatched payment went to a previous liability in the situation you have described then we would move the payment to the intended year if requested. These are looked at on a case by case basis
and the decision will be made by the council tax team if the payment isn't obviously intended for a specific debt"

Can you please clarify who you refer to as the person requesting the reallocation. Do you mean the customer or a member of the council tax team (or either)?

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth

Helen Snowden, North Kesteven District Council

Dear Mr Worth

 

Thank you for your email requesting clarification.

 

This has been forwarded to City of Lincoln Council to review.

 

Once a response has been received this will be sent to you.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Snowden

Performance and Information Assistant

Corporate Information Team

North Kesteven District Council

Tel No. 01529 414155 Ext 28186

 

 

NK - FOI, North Kesteven District Council

Ref No: 17/352

 

3 November 2017

 

Dear Mr Worth

 

Further to your email dated 2 November 2017 to receive clarification
related to your FOI request.

 

We have been provided with the following from City of Lincoln Council:

 

“Yes it could be either the customer or one of the council tax team
(although for the council tax team to move a payment as previously stated
they would need the customer to have given some indication of which debt
the payment is intended for if it is not already an obvious match)”

 

We trust this answers your query.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Snowden

Performance and Information Assistant

Corporate Information Team

North Kesteven District Council

Tel No. 01529 414155 Ext 28186

 

Dear NK - FOI,

Thank you for your response. I consider North Kesteven District Council has provided the information I requested.

Re; “Yes it could be either the customer or one of the council tax team (although for the council tax team to move a payment as previously stated they would need the customer to have given some indication of which debt the payment is intended for if it is not already an obvious match)”

I am having to assume from the council's explanation that no consideration is given to the allocation of payment to the account which is most beneficial for the debtor to reduce, i.e. it would not be deemed the debtor's intention to allocate payment to cause himself the least burden.

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth