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

Gwyn Worth made this Freedom of Information request to Mansfield District Council

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

The request was successful.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

V.Knapp, Mansfield District Council

1 Attachment

Mansfield District Council – Reference: 7330

Request for Information

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)

 

Thank you for your request below received at the Council on 19 October
3017.

 

I can confirm your request is being considered and will be dealt with
within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the
Freedom of Information Act 2000/ Environmental Information Regulations
2004 (EIR), subject to the information not being exempt (or containing
reference to a third party).

If appropriate, the information will be provided by e-mail/letter, normal
font size (Arial, 12pt).  If you require an alternative format then please
let me know. 

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us at
[1][Mansfield District Council request email] or by writing to Freedom of
Information for Mansfield District Council, C/o Ashfield District Council,
Urban Road, Kirkby-In-Ashfield, Nottingham NG17 8DA.

If you are not satisfied with how your request is being dealt with, then
please contact Jacqueline Collins, Director of Governance either by e-mail
at [2][email address]  or by writing to Jacqueline Collins,
Director of Governance, Mansfield District Council, Civic Centre,
Chesterfield Road South, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG19 7BH. Telephone
01623 463075.

If you wish to make a complaint about how your request has been dealt with
then you should complain by writing to Mrs Hayley Barsby, Interim Chief
Executive, Mansfield District Council, Civic Centre, Chesterfield Road
South, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG19 7BH.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint then you
have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office: Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. [3]www.ico.gov.uk
Telephone - 0303 123 1113 (local Rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to
use a national rate number.  Or email: [4][email address]

 

Kind regards

 

Vicky Knapp
Information Officer
Ashfield and Mansfield Legal Services
Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby in Ashfield
Nottinghamshire
NG17 8DA
Tel 01623 457332

 

From: Gwyn Worth [mailto:[FOI #439574 email]]
Sent: 19 October 2017 09:08
To: MDC - freedomofinformation <[email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not
subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

 

This message originated from outside your organization

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

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K.Winfield, Mansfield District Council

2 Attachments

Dear Gwyn Worth,

 

Please find attached a reply to your request

 

Regards

 

Kathryn Winfield
Information Officer (Part time) Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday
Ashfield District Council & Mansfield District Council Shared Legal
Services
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
Nottingham
NG17 8DA
01623 457329
[email address]

 

From: Gwyn Worth [mailto:[FOI #439574 email]]
Sent: 19 October 2017 09:08
To: MDC - freedomofinformation <[email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not
subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

 

This message originated from outside your organization

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

Yours faithfully,

Gwyn Worth

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

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[1][FOI #439574 email]

Is [2][Mansfield District Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom
of Information requests to Mansfield District Council? If so, please
contact us using this form:
[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[4]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[5]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

Dear K.Winfield,

Thank you for stating that you 'have Northgate set up to allocate payment that does not match a current year instalment amount 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

K.Winfield, Mansfield District Council

1 Attachment

Good afternoon,

 

I will forward your request onto the relevant department and I will
respond once I receive a response from them

 

Regards

 

Kathryn Winfield
Information Officer (Part time) Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday
Ashfield District Council & Mansfield District Council Shared Legal
Services
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
Nottingham
NG17 8DA
01623 457329
[email address]

 

From: Gwyn Worth [mailto:[FOI #439574 email]]
Sent: 25 October 2017 12:06
To: K.Winfield <[email address]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not
subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear K.Winfield,

Thank you for stating that you 'have Northgate set up to allocate payment
that does not match a current year instalment amount 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

K.Winfield, Mansfield District Council

2 Attachments

Dear Gwyn Worth,

 

Please find attached a reply to your request

 

Regards

 

Kathryn Winfield
Information Officer (Part time) Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday
Ashfield District Council & Mansfield District Council Shared Legal
Services
Urban Road
Kirkby-in-Ashfield
Nottingham
NG17 8DA
01623 457329
[email address]

 

From: Gwyn Worth [mailto:[FOI #439574 email]]
Sent: 25 October 2017 12:06
To: K.Winfield <[email address]>
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information request - Ensuring customers are not
subject to unnecessary recovery action, additional costs or hardship

 

This message originated from outside your organization

Dear K.Winfield,

Thank you for stating that you 'have Northgate set up to allocate payment
that does not match a current year instalment amount 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

Dear K.Winfield,

I consider Mansfield District 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 being unable to confirm 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 to be 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).

Yours sincerely,

Gwyn Worth